SAHRC says unoccupied R82m primary school not built on wetland following inspection

The buildings that were built to house Mayibuye Primary School, but have not been given an occupancy certificate due to dangerous conditions. The R82 million school premises cannot be used due to it being built in a waterlogged area in Tembisa, 7 September 2020. Picture: Neil McCartney

The school remains unoccupied with no sign of life due to a sewage leak, which runs from outside the facility right throughout the premises.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says its assessment of the unoccupied R82 million Mayibuye Primary School in Midrand, Johannesburg, has so far proved no “credence” it is built on a wetland.

Officials inspected the school on Wednesday and were joined by a delegation which included the acting head of the Gauteng Department Infrastructure Development.

Construction of the school, which is meant to serve 1,200 pupils, started in 2017 and comprises a nutrition centre, hall and reaction facilities such as a tennis court.

But it remains unoccupied with no sign of life due to a sewage leak, which runs from outside the facility right throughout the premises.

“Our initial assessment is that there is no credence to allegations that the school is built on a wetland; there is a sewage line currently leaking, which is adjacent to the school.

“The sewage leakage is continuously running, and this is something that really concerns us given that this falls within the competence of the City of Johannesburg,” SAHRC Gauteng head Buang Jones told the media following a walkabout at the school.

He added the commission would convene a meeting with the City as well as the departments of education and infrastructure development to find solutions that would make the school ready to receive pupils in 2021.

Jones said the engagement would also seek to demand accountability, adding upon engaging both the department’s accounting officer and project manager, they indicated, should a solution be found, the current challenges faced by the school could be resolved within four months.

“They have already costed how much this entire project will require in order to ensure this school is ready for use and occupation.

“They need about four months to remediate everything and attend outstanding issues, and they estimated costs are approximately R32 million.”

A report from the City to the Gauteng legislature’s Committee on Education and Infrastructure Development on 3 September indicated the school was constructed in contravention of the National Building Regulations and Building Standard Act 103, 1977, as amended and the site was waterlogged.

It also indicated a certificate of occupancy, therefore, could not be issued because building plans have not been submitted and approved.

But the department seems to be singing a different tune, saying the main issue at the school was the sewage leak.

It added the site was assessed by engineers before building commenced.

“Mayibuye [Primary School] is not built on a wetland [and] a waterlogged area. At the moment, we are working tirelessly with all involved stakeholders to approve funding so that we can complete the school,” said the department’s project manager, Sammy Mashiane.

Acting department head Richard Makhumisani said the purpose of the engagement with various stakeholders on Tuesday would iron out the gaps and inconsistencies surrounding issues at the school.

The department said a feasibility study was conducted on-site and it found the area suitable for building.

It added claims the school had been unoccupied for three years were false, malicious and misleading.

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