Those behind constructing a Tembisa school for R82 million in the centre of reeking sewage could face the law as the Gauteng legislature was considering criminally charging the provincial department of infrastructure development and property management (IDPM) and a contractor for building the “death trap”.
At a recent oversight visit to the multimillion-rand Mayibuye Primary School, the legislature’s portfolio committee on IDPM and education was met with flowing raw, smelly sewage at the entrance.
The visit was to assess the standard and quality of work done by contractors in infrastructure development projects in the province. Three years later, the school was still not yet occupied.
“The multimillion-rand school – which was supposed to be occupied in 2017 – stands as a white elephant after the department failed to obtain an occupancy certificate due to the dangerous conditions in which the school was built,” said chairperson of the portfolio committee on IDPM Mpho Modise.
The committee also established that the school was constructed in contravention of the National Building Regulations and Building Standard Act 103, 1997, as amended.
The assessment of the R82-million school found that occupying the property might be a death trap for pupils and teachers as the wetland could possibly weaken the building structure and lead it to collapse.
The structure continued to deteriorate with several defects such as collapsing ceilings, cracking tiles and walls, as well as flooded water around the school as it remained unoccupied for three years.
“This might leave government with only two options: of spending more millions remedying the situation or demolishing the building, as it is deemed dangerous for occupation, and to avoid the building being used as a haven for criminals or illegal land invaders. This would mean that the millions of rands invested in the construction of the school has gone to waste.”
But a unanimous decision was agreed upon during a joint meeting with the legislatures portfolio committees on IDPM and education to consider laying criminal charges.
Both committees also agreed to send a written letter to Gauteng Premier David Makhura to request that he institute an investigation which would lead to disciplinary action against the officials responsible for overseeing the construction project.
The committee said failure for appropriate action to be taken will signal the wrong message about the lack of accountability and consequence management in the province.