Criminal charges proposed over R82m unused school built on wetland

Mayibuye Primary School in Tembisa was meant to open in 2017 but the infrastructure department reportedly failed to obtain an occupancy certificate because it was built on dangerous ground.
Image: Veli Nhlapo.

Broken pieces hanging from the ceilings, stinking sewage water running through the fence over the tennis courts and no sign of learning.

These are the first impressions one gets when visiting Mayibuye Primary School in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, which was built at a cost of R82m but remains an unoccupied white elephant as it was erected on a wetland – posing significant safety risks to teachers and pupils.

The Gauteng legislature portfolio committee on infrastructure development visited the school on Tuesday for an inspection.

Committee chair Mpho Modise said those responsible for the project need to be held accountable.

“We are doing oversight in the province and once we are done, we will compile a report. We felt as a committee that we don’t have to have an inquiry yet to be able to get to the bottom of this whole thing,” said Modise.

“We felt there was negligence, either [by] the department of infrastructure [development] or the contractor, and someone ought to take responsibility and pay.”

The school was supposed to open three years ago but remains unoccupied due to the failure to obtain an occupancy certificate as it is deemed too dangerous for occupation.

“The general feeling of both the infrastructure portfolio committee and that of [the department of] education was that we should write a letter to the premier … and indicate that we have a desire to open a criminal case against the officials of the department, including the contractor,” said Modise.

“We feel that the money that was spent and the structure that is there, there are some structural defects that need to be attended to, there are number of issues that still need to be attended to – and who should pay for those extra additional costs?

“These are the issues that made us want to open a criminal case because it means here, there was nothing more than just a quick buck. People made a profit and [went] home.”

By Shonisani Tshikalange

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