‘Poisonous’ classrooms a while longer for Toekies

Some of the damaged asbestos roofs in Toekomsrus which already should have been done away with.

Toekomsrus has yet again come off on the short side of the stick and will be asbestos-ridden for a while longer.

Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng MEC for Education, indicated only 14 asbestos schools will be renovated over a period of four years which will amount to R518 million. He said the majority of the schools which will be converted to brick and mortar will be in Johannesburg.

The department failed to meet the November 2016 target to remove all asbestos schools in the province.

“The Gauteng Department of Education has in the past failed to spend its allotted budget, placing a further strain on teaching and learning conditions for many of the province’s schools,” said Khume Ramulifho, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education.

Ramulifho feels while certain schools are being fixed in a certain area of Gauteng, other learners and teachers are exposed to asbestos which can lead to major health hazards.

“It is high time that MEC Lesufi prioritizes all asbestos schools to be demolished and rebuilt with brick and mortar before the end of 2019,” he said.

Donovan Cloete spent his entire term as a Toekomsrus councillor fighting for the area to be eradicated of asbestos. File photo/ Clinton Botha

Donovan Cloete, DA Proportional Represenation (PR) Councillor, has fought this issue in Toekomsrus where Randfontein Secondary School (RSS) still has asbestos structures.

In addition to this, residents of Toekomsrus are still living under leaky asbestos roofing which was supposed to have been phased out years ago.

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the manufacturing and use of asbestos was banned in South Africa in 2008.

In 2014 it was announced by Malibongwe Kanjana, chief of operations in the Gauteng Human Settlements Department that asbestos roofs were a health hazard and that Gauteng would pay for the replacement of asbestos roofing in impoverished areas.

Although the relevant parties are aware of the situation nothing has been done yet which still leaves parents, teachers and learners at risk in Toekomsrus.

Roxy de Villiers

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