A CHRISTIAN school in Butterworth was shut down by authorities yesterday because it was deemed unsafe and a threat to the lives of pupils and teachers.
The 85 pupils of Revival Christian School, which had been operating since 2006, were removed from their classrooms, following the structure being found to be a danger to all after an earlier inspection.
Problems identified with the school included a roof falling apart, illegal electricity connections, poor sanitation, collapsing classroom ceilings and cracked walls.
Labour Department officials, accompanied by officials from Mnquma Municipality and the Butterworth health department, visited the school after a call from a concerned member of the public.
It was then decided to close down the school.
Labour Department official Nosipho Gcolotela said: "We have issued the notice to the principal. Based on the findings we have, this school poses a danger to the pupils’ lives and can no longer operate.
"Whether they decide to fix the problems or close permanently is up to them.”
The private school had pupils from grades 1 to 10 and nine teachers. There is no fence around the building, and only four toilets.
A visit to the school yesterday revealed green tarpaulin held down by bricks served as a roof for part of the school.
There were no fire extinguishers and parts of the ceiling were held up by plastic pipes. Exposed electricity wires led into classrooms and part of the building had collapsed.
Parents said they paid fees of R650 a month, yet pupils were not provided with toilet paper.
Concerned Butterworth resident Laurene Hamilton, who contacted the authorities, said when she had complained to the headmaster promises were made the school would be fixed. However, nothing was done. "For a Christian school, this is a disgrace. On Friday, I saw pupils on top of the roof, sweeping off rain water and placing sails and bricks to cover the classrooms.
"Children’s lives are put in danger due to greed, while parents pay fees,” she said.
Headmaster Selwyn Snyman, who initially refused to comment, said he was uncertain about the future of the school and its pupils. "I asked about the solution. I don’t know who is responsible for the placement of the pupils,” he said.
The closure of the school came as a surprise to children and parents, who said they had not received prior notice. A meeting will be held tomorrow to discuss the matter.
"I am stressed about this situation. I don’t know where I will place my child at this time of the year,” parent Veronic Dyani said.
"We need answers about what will happen to our children.”
Snyman said: "We will contact the parents and inform them. I admit this [state of the school] could be the result of bad workmanship.”
He said they were partly responsible for the school’s condition.
Teachers are worried about how they will now provide for their families. "My family and I will suffer from this,” a teacher who did not want to identify himself, said.
Provincial education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said there was nothing the department could do about the situation at the school as it was a private institution.