Cable theft cripples Giyani education circuit offices

The National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) has urged the government to urgently deal with cable theft, which is affecting five education circuit offices in Giyani, Limpopo.

The offices have not been fully operational since May. The electricity supply was cut off due to cable theft. The offices are housed in the building that used to be the old Giyani College of Education campus.

The affected circuit offices, which fall under the Mopani East education district, include Manombe, Shamavunga, Groot Letaba, Klein Letaba and Nsami. They are critical for the administration of the Giyani education district’s dozens of schools.

“We urge the government to address the issue of cable theft and corruption because a shortage of energy jeopardises the education of our children, particularly the poorest of the poor in rural and remote areas,” said NASGB chairperson Matakanye Matakanye.

Several employees at the offices reported they had not been working due to a lack of electricity. “We spend our days lazing around because there is nothing we can do without electricity. Without power, we cannot operate our computers, printers, emails and other electronics,” said one of the staff members who cannot be named because she is not authorised to speak to the media.

“This issue has an impact on schools and the operation of the department’s district office because the circuit’s responsibilities include processing documents and sending them to the district,” said the employee.

Limpopo department of education spokesperson Mike Maringa said they reported the matter to the police around May 22, which led to frequent patrols around the college.

He said a month later, the police upped their efforts after discovering that vandalism was continuing from the back of the campus, which is adjacent to a hill covered in heavy vegetation.

“The total blackout happened in the first week of August. The department sought the assistance of Eskom, which discovered that there was damage to a transformer within the premises. This damage was affecting houses around Section D2 of the Giyani township,” he said.

“Eskom then disconnected the college completely so that they could restore power at D2, while seeking a solution [for the education offices].

This complete blackout only took approximately eight hours,” he said.

Maringa said after an assessment of the infrastructure, the department and Eskom agreed it would be safer for power to be restored on a small scale until the problem is fully sorted out.

Sergeant Ridgewell Rikhotso of the Giyani police said cable theft was a great concern in the area.

“Community members must report cases of cable theft as soon as they happen,” he said.

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