Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


New lease of life for Soweto’s former learning centres

One abandoned school in Diepkloof houses more than 300 people who had been demanding houses from government.


Communities in Soweto have now found new uses for abandoned state schools. Mbewana Primary School, for example, is used as a workshop for community members who have opened businesses, such as upholstery and carpentry shops, while other classrooms are used for gym and choir rehearsals. According to one of the entrepreneurs, Mojalefa Motlokwane, they have not been given formal ownership of the school, but the community members were happy that the school was occupied and was being put to good use. “It has been more than 10 years since this school was last used. The state of this school was…

Subscribe to continue reading this article
and support trusted South African journalism

Access PREMIUM news, competitions
and exclusive benefits

SUBSCRIBE
Already a member? SIGN IN HERE

Communities in Soweto have now found new uses for abandoned state schools.

Mbewana Primary School, for example, is used as a workshop for community members who have opened businesses, such as upholstery and carpentry shops, while other classrooms are used for gym and choir rehearsals.

According to one of the entrepreneurs, Mojalefa Motlokwane, they have not been given formal ownership of the school, but the community members were happy that the school was occupied and was being put to good use.

“It has been more than 10 years since this school was last used. The state of this school was very bad before we occupied it and it was not safe for the community around,” Motlokwane said.

Another abandoned school is Bakgomana Primary School in Diepkloof, Soweto, now known as Bakgomana Estate, which houses more than 300 people who had been demanding houses from government.

David Maluleke, who lives in Bakgomana, said after many of schools were closed they became havens for criminals, but some Zone 4 residents decided “enough was enough” and they came together to protect the structure from vandalism and to combat crime.

“The school was a mess when we first came here. It was vandalised and criminals used to steal cars from everywhere and hide them here. They would rob people on the streets at night and run to this school,” said Maluleke.

“You would never pass here at night. People who smoke nyaope used to stay here. This place was havoc. “Us moving here is also awareness to government to say people from Diepkloof need houses. That is what is at the centre of people occupying this school.”

ALSO READ: Damaged schools, infrastructure and lost study materials: What now for KZN pupils?

However, not all schools are used for businesses and residences.

Micheal Seageng Primary School is used as a community education and training centre for those rewriting Matric.

According to members of the community, when Mohato Higher Primary School merged with Karabo Lower Primary School in 2015, the facility was used as an autistic school.

Igugu Primary School in Mofolo South is occupied by several organisations, which offer activities such aerobics classes and training programmes.

“Now a company has hired us to guard the school as it will apparently be turned into a community college,” said a security guard who wanted to remain anonymous.

The school is covered in weeds and vandals have broken doors and windows and stripped it of the fittings. Another school occupied by community members is Leitsibolo Primary School which is used for gardening, businesses, a church and a soup kitchen.

Read more on these topics

department of education Soweto

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits