Arsonists torch Biko’s Ginsberg high school
BRAZEN arsonists have gutted parts of a historic Ginsberg school, setting alight two offices, three Grade 9 classrooms and vandalising a laboratory before leaving a trail of faeces in the passages.
The arson attack took place on Sunday at the Forbes Grant Senior Secondary School.
The school, established in 1942, counts political activists Steve Biko, Steve Tshwete and Griffiths Mxenge as past pupils.
Police spokesperson Captain Thozama Solani said police were informed of the fire at Forbes Grant at around 5pm on Sunday, although the fire may have been burning since 3.30pm.
Solani said community members, as well as Forbes Grant pupils, took it upon themselves to extinguish the fire while waiting for the fire brigade to arrive.
“If it wasn’t for those pupils, that school would have burnt to the ground,” she said.
“These culprits will be brought to book.”
When the Daily Dispatch visited the school yesterday, caretaker Gordon Tayo said he suspected that the fire may have started in an unused office before raging through to the the Grade 9 classrooms.
Tayo, who lives a few metres from the school, said community members informed him of the blaze.
“When I looked out, all I saw was smoke coming from the building ... I felt so helpless,” he said.
Taking the Dispatch team through the burnt building, Tayo said he had never seen such “acts of hatred”.
All that was left in the classrooms and offices were the metal sections of the burnt tables and desks and ashen remnants of books and text books.
In the passage, burnt faeces littered the floor, while in one unburnt classroom, the arsonists had defecated on a teacher’s desk.
“What is wrong with these (people),” Tayo asked.
Forbes Grant principal Vuyisa Piliso said he was at the school until about 8.30pm on Sunday trying to douse the blaze.
He said that when he arrived at the school, he was met by a strong petrol odour.
“I suspect some of the learners of doing this.
“There’s nothing else we can think of,” he said.
“I am devastated.”
Learning at the school will resume tomorrow.
Provincial Department of Education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said they had dispatched a team from the King William’s Town district office and infrastructure section.
The team would undertake preliminary assessments to determine whether the school required emergency intervention.
“Our foremost intention is to ensure that optimal teaching and learning resumes at the school as soon as possible,” Pulumani said.