The National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) has urged the government to urgently address cable theft, which has already hampered the operation of five education circuits in Giyani, Limpopo.
According to government employees working at the Giyani College of Education premises, the college building houses numerous key functionaries attached to the Department of Education, including five circuit offices.
The affected offices include Mangobhe, Shamavunga, Groot Letaba, Klein Letaba, and Nsami, critical for handling the Giyani education district’s dozens of schools.
The offices have not been completely operational over the past few months, when the electricity was disconnected due to the theft of cables at the property.
“We urge the government to address the issue of cable theft and corruption, as a shortage of energy jeopardises the education of our children, particularly the poorest of the poor in rural and remote areas.
“Because crime is above the educational authorities, we are calling the government and communities to step up and safeguard their children’s education,” said NASGB chairperson Matakanye Matakanye.
Several employees at the college reported that they had not been operating properly due to a lack of electricity.
“Yes, we have been without power for almost two months owing to cable theft. We just spend our days lazing around because there is nothing you can do without electricity.
Remember that without power, our computers, printers, emails, and other electronic devices would be useless.
“This issue has an impact on schools and the operation of the department’s district office because the circuit’s responsibilities include processing documents and sending them to the district,” said an employee who asked not to be named because they are not allowed to speak to the media.
The employee stated that the situation had been reported to the Mopani East District Office, but nothing had been done so far.
Another employee agreed that their energy was going to waste: “True, things are difficult here. We basically come here to sit and go because we can’t accomplish anything without electricity.”
The employees who spoke to African Times were dismayed that the district administration purchased replacement cables last month but stored them at the district.
“We went there and saw a massive cable that may have cost R100 000. The cable was discarded outside and wrapped in plastic,” she said.
Sergeant Ridgewell Rikhotso of Giyani Police stated that cable theft was a great concern in the area.
However, he stated that the community was not reporting these occurrences, making dealing with them difficult.
“Community members must report cases of cable theft as soon as they happen,” said Rikhotso.
Limpopo Department of Education spokesperson Mike Maringa said they reported the matter to the police around May 22, which led to frequent patrols around the college.
He said a month later, police upped their efforts after discovering that vandalism was continuing from the back of the campus, which is adjacent to a hill covered in heavy natural vegetation.
“The total blackout on campus happened on the first week of August 2023. The department sought assistance from Eskom, which discovered that there was damage to a transformer within the campus. This damage was affecting houses around Section D2 of the Giyani township.
“Eskom then disconnected the campus completely so that they could restore power at D2 while seeking a solution for the [college premises]. This complete blackout only took approximately eight hours, after restoring power at D2, Eskom restored power at the [college premises] in one phase since the infrastructure still needed to be assessed,” he said.
Maringa said after assessing the infrastructure and identifying the fault, the department and Eskom agreed that it would be safer for power to be restored on a small scale until the problem is completely sorted.
He added that they were confident that the police were working diligently to stop the vandalism and apprehend the perpetrators. At the same time, the Department also strives to improve security to prevent further property damage.