The principal of the De Villiers Primary in Oudtshoorn‚ Glynis Lekay‚ said she realised the magnitude of the cockroach problem when the school’s general worker attempted to find the source of a bug in the alarm system and discovered the insects had chewn through numerous wires.
The plight of the 750-pupil school is so dire that it was raised in the Western Cape legislature last week‚ when MPL Lennit Max asked education MEC Debbie Schäfer how she planned to help.
Schäfer replied that the school was using “norms and standards funding‚ as required‚ to deal with the cockroaches”.
But Lekay said the school was struggling to balance general maintenance of the 1970s asbestos building with the need to buy large quantities of cockroach spray.
Schafer said the school would undergo maintenance in 2019/20 and was due for replacement starting in 2024‚ but Lekay told TimesLIVE on Monday: “We won’t make it. If we have to go into a contract with pest control then I don’t know where our school will end with money — and I don’t think the governing body will approve it.”
She said the cockroaches even hitched rides home in handbags and briefcases. “I open my bag and leave it outside my house to see if they will climb out. They lay their eggs in between the papers‚” she said.
She dismissed the suggestion of having a period where the children stomp on cockroaches. “The circuit manager would laugh at me‚” she said.
“The kids aren’t afraid of the cockroaches‚ they run and stomp when they see them running around. But it seems to me that by day when there’s a lot of movement in the classrooms they hide in the drawers.
Lekay said the cockroaches had been “quiet” for a while but the general worker had given her an ominous warning: “Ma’am‚ just watch when the school opens again after the holidays.”
She said Doom cans in each classroom had proved unequal to the eradication task‚ and they had started buying insecticide from the local co-operative to burn during the holidays.
The cockroaches had taken over from mice that plagued the school a few years ago‚ she said. “The mice are quiet now. We had some at the tuck shop recently but now we’ve placed Rattex there and they just die there and rot.”