Chaos reigns at school after head’s suspension

DETERIORATING: Lingelihle Senior Secondary School in Ilinge is slowly being vandalised Pictures: ZOLILE MENZELWA

BROKEN doors, dirty toilets with graffiti on the walls and vandalised fences are signs of the deterioration of the once-thriving Lingelihle Senior Secondary School in Ilinge.

Principal Sandile Mata was suspended last year, allegedly following the assault of a pupil.

Parents and pupils expressed concern over the growing vandalism of the school during a visit by The Rep recently.

A tour showed how doors had been removed from their hinges and holes made in the fence to enable pupils to leave the school even when the gate is locked.

A Grade 11 pupil, who wants to remain anonymous citing fears of victimisation, said the school had deteriorated into chaos since Mata’s suspension.

The Rep reported (“School closed, answers sought”, January 20) that the school governing body (SGB) closed the school as a sign of protest over the suspension of Mata.

He was suspended on July 22 last year, after his case was struck off the roll for lack of evidence by the Ezibeleni Magistrate’s Court on June 28.

Pupils said there was chaos in classes, the cleanliness of the school was no longer a priority and Mata had to come back to save the school.

“Pupils now just stand and smoke in front of the class.”

The boys’ toilets lay littered with cigarette stubs while graffiti defaced the walls.

Former SGB deputy chairwoman Nontsikelelo Geja said the SGB wanted Mata back before it was dissolved. She accused district education head Nkosinathi Godlo of having a vendetta against Mata.

“When pupils were brutally attacking each other at the school, Godlo did not come. When a pupil was caught selling drugs on the premises Godlo did not come – but he personally delivered a letter of suspension to the principal.”

In the assault case against Mata there were no witnesses and, after being cleared in a court of law, he was supposed to have gone back to work. The school SGB was dissolved on January 21.

“Mata was passionate about this school. He knew all the children by their names and made sure the children who were orphans, took home the leftover food from the school nutrition programme. That does not happen anymore.”

Geja said they were not defending Mata and if he was guilty, he should be removed. If not, he should return.

A woman who wanted to remain anonymous, has also come forward to say she was in the office when Mata was accused of kicking a child and that the alleged assault did not happen.

Education department district director in Komani Nkosinathi Godlo said Mata’s case had been finalised and that the department had taken over running of the school. “We must give 21 days before an SGB election meeting sits. We did that but the meeting did not have a quorum. We will give another chance. I will not comment on the chaos at the school.”

The school had a budget for minor repairs.

“I find it strange that the SGB would blame the department when we are cleaning up a mess they caused, they are being ingenuous. I will not comment on the demand for Mata to come back.”

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