Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, has visited Ulundi and Nongoma in the Zululand District Municipality, as part of government's outreach programme, following the recent unrest in the province.
Nzimandes outreach programme is aimed at engaging stakeholders on the impact
of the recent looting and destruction of private and public property in the Nongoma Local Municipality.
Joined by KwaZulu-Natal Human Settlements and Public Works MEC, Jomo Sibiya; Zululand District Mayor, Thulasizwe Buthelezi; Nongoma Local Municipality Executive Mayor, Albert Mncwango; local councillors and other stakeholders, Nzimande visited Nongoma shopping mall to assess the damage caused by the recent riots, and also interacted with community members at Nongoma taxi rank.
The mall employs over 700 people from the community of Nongoma and surrounding areas. According to the municipality, 98% of shops in town were looted and burnt, with only one shop and one petrol garage currently operating.
Nzimande echoed President Cyril Ramaphosas sentiments that the violence was an attempted insurrection.
Even the [officials] here have told us that it looks like this was planned weeks before it actually happened. Cars came from different areas and targeted particular shops, including targeting ATMs.
It is very clear that this... [was an attempt to] destabilise government, and to try to make people lose hope in government when they see that theyve got no food, and many other things are actually affected, Nzimande said on Wednesday.
Nzimande is concerned about the impact the violence will have on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and the education system.
If there is no food in the locality and there are no other facilities, its bound to affect everything. We need to ensure that we clamp down on this criminality, and also most importantly, identify the ring leaders of [this] plot, the Minister said.
Nzimande visited a vaccination site at Mthashana TVET College to monitor the progress of the vaccination programme in the district. He said all public universities and TVET colleges across the country are being used as vaccination sites, and are open to the public.
Budget cut affects repairing of vandalised schools
Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC, Kwazi Mshengu, said with R6.3 billion cut from the provincial department, and the vandalism of schools, it is difficult for the department to instantly attend to the schools that have been affected by the riots.
He said the devastation will hamper other programmes that are meant to deliver quality education for all.
There are schools where some classes have been burnt, and there are schools where classes were not affected, but they targeted particular classes, like the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) laboratory in one of the schools, where they did not destroy [infrastructure] except to steal the computers.
It does appear that in this instance, the people who broke into the school had an intimate knowledge of the school because they tried to enter through the door and failed. They then tried to enter through the roof, they failed. They had all the time to dig the hole behind the ICT lab and they used that whole to basically take everything, which was there, Mshengu said.
He said in other schools, food was stolen from the kitchens and infrastructure was destroyed.