Appeal to restore Seatides school ravaged by tornado

What little remains of the roofs provides little if any protection from the elements.

What little remains of the roofs provides little if any protection from the elements.

Published Jun 10, 2024


Durban — “The entire school is a disaster zone. We need to have the school rebuilt and renovated soon as time is of the essence”.

Seatides Combined School in oThongathi was destroyed when a tornado ripped through the North Coast town causing devastation and claiming lives.

The 36-year-old school that caters for pupils from Grade R to Grade 12, was extensively damaged with the roofs ripped out, windows broken and classrooms damaged, making it unsafe for staff and pupils. Pupils from Grade 10 to 12 were being accommodated at the nearby Anton Lembede Mathematics, Sciences & Technology Academy to complete their mid-year exams while classes for the remaining grades have been suspended.

A roofless classroom at Seatides Combined School.

Kola Govender, principal of Seatides Combined School, said it was devastating to see the school, which was well-maintained now, in ruins.

“The entire school is a disaster zone. Equipment in the IT lab was destroyed by water. The science lab and library were badly affected. The power of the tornado rearranged the library which had been set up for exams. We need to have the school rebuilt and renovated soon as time is of the essence. We are appealing for help from the private sector and donors. Together with the department we want to restore the culture of teaching and learning at the school,” said Govender.

He said exams and tests for children in the grades that have been suspended will be written when children return to school in the third term.

Govender said the 885 pupils at the school were mainly from oThongathi, Seatides, La Mercy, Westbrook, nearby informal areas, as well as Verulam and KwaDukuza.

He said different religious and community organisations used a room in the school for prayer or classes.

The Seatides Sai Centre set up a room for their weekly prayer service and classes at the Seatides Combined School in Tongaat a day before a tornado destroyed the school.

Yashica Moodley, a member of the Seatides Sai Centre, said they had been using a classroom at the school for about 30 years for their weekly service and Balvikas.

“For the first time we were given a dedicated room to use. Last Sunday members spent the day cleaning the room and turning it into our new shrine room. And a day later disaster struck. Our room is on the bottom floor. Unlike the other classes on the bottom floor of that block which was extensively damaged and could not be salvaged, our room just had windows broken. We were able to remove stuff that we had just put into that room.

“We were so excited after setting it up last Sunday and could not wait to use it for our classes and service. As a community we want to see how we can help restore the school,” said Moodley.

Muzi Mahlambi, spokesperson for the KZN Department of education, said 20 schools in the province were affected by the tornado, adding that the most affected was Seatides Combined School.

“That led to the department moving Grade 10 to 12 to the The Anton Lembede Mathematics, Sciences & Technology Academy so that they can proceed with their examinations. We are going to provide mobile classrooms to some of the schools. We have quantified the number of mobile classrooms that we need, which are 56 for now. We are continuing to monitor the situation and engage the affected districts,” said Mahlambi.

Sunday Tribune