Holy Cross Primary School in Zonnebloem is still nowhere near having a playground for their pupils.
While the Western Cape Education Department’s spokeswoman, Milicent Merton, confirmed that permission was granted to the school to lease a portion of the land next door, there is a long way to go before the children have a safe space to enjoy outdoor activities.
The school’s lack of a suitable playground for the pupils came to light two years ago when community members, teachers, parents and the School Governing Body (SGB) made several attempts to tie down the land opposite the school (“No room for play”, Southern Suburbs Tatler, April 21, 2016).
When the Tatler arrived at the school last week, pockets of the derelict land opposite the school were being cleared by large excavators, however, this was not to make way for a playground.
New headmistress at the Zonnebloem-based school, Nomthandazo Zweni, is well aware of the challenges facing the pupils, particularly relating to the land across the road where homeless people seek refuge.
“We do fear for the children at times, as we are aware of the problems coming from that land.
“It could be put to better use and used as the children’s playground, something which the school never had and wants to fight for,” she said.
For Ms Zweni, it’s heartbreaking to witness the children leaving their classrooms during the interval but being forced to remain indoors.
“We really do need this playground urgently for our kids’ sake. They are being exposed to some illicit activities on the field and at the same time, subjected to playing on the derelict land next to the school, which is really not suitable for them, but there is not much we can do at this stage.”
Meanwhile, some parents approached the Tatler with their fears about the number of people living among the rubble across the road.
Two parents chose to remain anonymous for their children’s safety but said the situation was not getting any better.
“The workers started clearing the land, some shacks were thrown down and people were removed, but it seems as if they are not going too far and keep returning, setting up a new location on this large piece of vacant land,” the angry mother said.
“It’s like a big game of cat and mouse.”
Another parent said scenes of drinking and substance abuse tops the list of concerns, but “urgent attention” was needed before a playground was built for the school.
“You do not want a case whereby these shady characters feel the playground will become their home. The school has battled hard and continues to battle for a proper playground for our kids, but we cannot allow these scoundrels the right to take over something the school has fought so hard for,” the father said.
“I certainly do not want my children playing among such activities.”
Ms Zweni added: “We are well aware of the problems. It does get reported and the people are removed, but they appear again out of nowhere and the problems then continue.”
If you wish to assist the school with their playgrounds efforts, contact the school on 021 465 2158.