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Port Elizabeth police investigating cases of arson and vandalism at Reuben Birin School

Apr 2, 2019
Port Elizabeth police investigating cases of arson and vandalism at Reuben Birin School

Police called in after a series of arson attacks at Reuben Birin School for the Hearing Impaired in Bethelsdorp, Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth - Eastern Cape Department of EducationSuperintendent General, Themba Kojana, on Monday approached the police and head of the Eastern Cape Department of Safety & Liaison to urgently intervene in stopping the scourge of criminality being visited on Reuben Birin Special School in Nelson Mandela Bay District.

Based in Bethelsdorp, Port Elizabeth, Reuben Birin Special School for Hearing Impaired learners suffered badly at the hands of criminals four times over the past seven days.

"On Monday, 25 March 2019, there was a burglary at the administration block of the school, and laptops and desktop computers were stolen," said Loyiso Pulumani, speaking for the Eastern Cape Department of Education.

"On Wednesday, 27 March 2019, there was again another robbery, this time around printers at the school were all stolen. 

"On Thursday, 28 March 2019, the same administration block was set alight and burnt to the ground. This block also housed a non profit organisation, Seizbyt, who are in partnership with Reuben Birin to provide computer training to the community."

He said that, as if that was not enough, on Saturday night, 30 March 2019, and early morning Sunday, 31 March 2019, 12 classrooms at the back of the school were burnt down.

"These constant attacks have left the school in a serious crisis of confidence. The endangerment of learners with special needs is a serious indictment of the moral compass of the entire local school community," Pulumani said.

"Whilst the hostel with 60 learners is still safe for now, there is now serious concern going foward. The school has a total enrollment of 140 learners."

Port Elizabeth police investigating cases of arson at Reuben Birin School for the Hearing Impaired

He said that Kojana issued an instruction that district managers and officials visit the school premises on Sunday and they assembled a team made up of the SGB, School Management Team (SMT), Education Social Support Services (ESSS), Institutional Development, Support & Governance (IDSG)and Infrastructure Planning to advise and assist the school on the way forward.

"This include the use of the available 3 classrooms, staffroom, boardroom, audioroom and 5 workshops, and the alternative use of school space outside the premises," Pulumani added.

"Arrangements will also look at utilisation of the remaining bus and car as 3 busses have been badly damaged. The school is currently putting together the equipment list."

He said that according to the Principal, electricity in the area was off for the entire week due to road construction in the area. This is probably the loophole that criminals exploited to visit this untold harm and destruction to the school.

Kojana said, "schools are designated centres of community life. They are owned by the communities. It is unfortunate when the same communities allow for wanton destruction of property and stealing of expensive learning and teaching equipment. We call upon our communities to take responsibility for the safe upkeep of schools."

Pulumani said that Port Elizabeth police are now working overtime to ensure that culprits are identified and brought to book.

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