Overwhelming support for gutted school

Firefighters trying to control the fire at Holy Cross Primary School last Thursday.

Holy Cross Primary School in Walmer Estate slowly rebuilding after a fire at the school last week.

Teachers and pupils were evacuated just after 1pm on Thursday, February 7 as the blaze engulfed classrooms.

Eight vehicles and 27 firefighters were deployed to fight the fire, according to Fire and Rescue spokesman Theo Layne.

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is still a mystery.

The fire gutted three classrooms on the Searle Street side of the school.

“All the teachers and pupils that were in that vicinity had to leave their property behind to evacuate the school,” said teacher Carlene Leukes.

Computer labs, a school kitchen and a new library were also damaged.

Principal Nomthandazo Zweni thanked the community for coming to the school’s aid in its time of need and helping to keep it running.

Neighbouring schools and local businesses had offered to replace what had been lost in the fire.

Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokeswoman, Jessica Shelver, said there had been an overwhelming response from the public with donations of stationery and school bags to Holy Cross pupils.

Ms Zweni said pupils from the gutted classrooms were being housed elsewhere on the school premises.

The Otto Foundation Trust, which had been helping the school establish a library(“New library to honour Holy Cross pupil,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, November 29, 2018) has vowed to continue with the project.

The trust’s Nonikiwe Mashologu said it was looking at running a mobile library in the meantime.

“The idea with the mobile library is to take the library from class to class during the course of the day and do reading sessions,” she said.

Ms Zweni said a lot of food donations had come in to help with the school’s feeding scheme, which had been moved to the Holy Cross church hall next door.

“Volunteers are coming in to assist in feeding the children for breakfast and lunch,” she said.

The church’s Father Gerardo Garcia said it would give the school whatever support it could.

The fire is the latest in a series of misfortunes to strike the school in recent months.

In December, Father Garcia broke his ankle chasing two muggers who had stolen a teacher’s handbag (“Priest breaks ankle chasing muggers,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, December 6 ).

In January, the school’s feeding scheme was burgled.(“School’s feeding scheme burgled,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, January 17).

Later that month, a fence near the school was vandalised (“School’s safety compromised,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, January 31).

Ms Zweni said it was unclear at this stage when the gutted classrooms would be rebuilt.

Meanwhile, a company has offered to put up security fencing around the school to keep out intruders.

Ms Shelver said the education department would resupply the school with furniture and books but it needed donations of kitchen appliances, including a microwave, hot plates, urns, a gas stove and fridge, for its feeding scheme. Call Ms Zweni at 079 895 3079 if you can help.

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