For a province that is battling a huge school infrastructure backlog, severe storms that caused damage at more than 50 schools have dealt the Eastern Cape a severe blow.
That was the message from Education MEC Fundile Gade during his assessment of schools that were damaged when a multicell cluster storm tore through Mthatha and other parts of OR Tambo District Municipality on Tuesday, leaving a trail of destruction.
Gade’s spokesperson Vuyiseka Mboxela confirmed to News24 that the department will need millions of rand to rebuild 51 schools.
Most of the schools are situated in the OR Tambo District Municipality which was the hardest hit by the severe weather.
Mboxela revealed that 33 of the province’s 51 damaged schools are in Mthatha and surrounding areas.
On Monday, Gade visited Jumba and Ngwayibanjwa senior secondary schools in Mthatha to assess the extent of the damage.
The MEC said: “This hailstorm is just another unfortunate setback to our plans as we [are] still battling with the huge infrastructural backlog in the province which sees many communities across our province calling for building of their schools.”
Jumba has 121 pupils writing matric exams while Ngwayibanjwa has 114 pupils also writing the Grade 12 examinations.
Gade assured the public that the damage to the schools had had no effect on the psychological state of leaners.
“They have not been affected, but of course emotionally. Some have had to acclimatise themselves in the context of being grouped differently due to the lack of classrooms and halls that are being utilised but as I was engaging the principal and them [pupils], I could get a sense that there is no examinations anxiety, they treat this as normal,” said Gade.
Local media reported last week that the storm had killed three people including an eight-year-old.
The three were reportedly crushed to death by walls that collapsed in their homes.
Residents on social media reported that hundreds of livestock died in torrential rain or drowned in floods.
The South African Weather Service confirmed on Wednesday that very high winds from the enhanced multicell storm resulted in damage to homes, vehicles, and the nearby airport, while also uprooting trees and resulting in heavy downpours which led to localised flooding.