South Africa: Seven Years After Renovations Started, School Still Incomplete

28 February 2020

"Usually when it rains I have to stand for the rest of the period because my spot leaks" says learner

Renovations at Lemana Mission to replace Lemana High School in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo, started in 2013. It was supposed to be an 18-month project. Seven years later it is still not done. Meanwhile, the old high school struggles to maintain a conducive environment for learning.

Mary Ringanai of the Lemana High school governing body (SGB) said: "We are planning to take it upon ourselves to complete the renovations as this is taking time while our children are learning under very bad conditions."

Sam Makondo from the Limpopo Department of Education said that the first contractor, Bankuna Construction, started in 2013, but went into liquidation and was terminated in 2015.

Lilithalethu Trading, the second contractor, started work in 2018, but work has been disrupted by labour disputes. Makondo said the completion date will be determined by when the workers returned to work.

Jimmy Miyeni, a member of the Lemana School Management team, said Lilithalethu was meant to complete the work by April.

Workers who used to work for Bankuna and who were then employed by Lilithalethu are demanding money they are owed for the work they did under Bankuna.

Lemana Mission is still partly a building site. Classroom blocks are almost complete, but stacks of bricks and building material stand around an incomplete school hall. Electricity has yet to be installed. There is no furniture in the classrooms.

Meanwhile, Lemana High School is in poor condition. The road to it is impassable when it rains, causing learners to stay home. Some classroom roofs leak. In some, the ceilings are caving in. There is no school library.

A grade 9 learner said: "Usually when it rains I have to stand for the rest of the period because my spot leaks. The situation has been like this for many years."

The school has about 500 learners.

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