Servicemen help repair flood-damaged KZN high school

Lt. Col. Sibusiso Amos Mbuyazi and Brettonwood High School Principal Ellen Zizhou. Photo: File


A massive military clearing operation is underway at a high school in KwaZulu-Natal.

Around 100 members of the SA National Defense (SANDF) were brought in to repair flood-ravaged classrooms at Brettonwood High School in Umbilo. They are unclogging sewer lines, erecting fences and cleaning up piles of rubble washed away by the deadly rains that hit the coastal province in April.

Soldiers clean the school. Photo: File

The military group is among 10,000 SANDF personnel sent to aid the province in an operation called Operation Chariot.

Major Mpho Mathebula, Operations Communications Officer for the project, said:

The SANDF will do emergency work such as clearing the classrooms of mud, unclogging the sewage system and helping with the broken fence.

Military personnel are helping to ease the burden on government systems as the province rebuilds.

Earlier this month, The Witness reported that teachers’ unions and school boards had raised concerns about the impact of the floods on teaching and learning, as 72 out of 630 Affected schools in the province remained inaccessible.

READ: Concern as 72 flood-hit schools in KZN remain inaccessible

According to Mathebula, eThekwini Municipality has pledged construction materials for the exterior works and the Department of Basic Education has pledged to provide materials for the interior.

“We have asked the communities to come and lend a hand as we are temporarily deployed to help the communities rebuild the place after the calamity they have suffered. We expect that after local councilors encourage them to do so, they will start showing their support.

The school fence is being repaired. Photo: File

Ward 33 councilor Sakhile Mngadi, under whose jurisdiction the school is, said one of the biggest projects they were trying to undertake was the construction of a temporary bridge to replace the one that was swept away by children crossing the Umbilo River on their way to Brettonwood High School.

He said:

Some materials will need to come from the community and others from SANDF reserves. The municipality made it clear that they did not have the money for this.

“Many members of the community in this neighborhood have helped out which is great to see. However, there is still a lot to do. The army arrived two weeks ago and will be in the area until the end of May.”

Mngadi added that the materials available to repair the school were insufficient.

LILY: KZN schools closed for a week after devastating floods

“The community and the school were able to get some shovels and some gloves. They can’t get any more and need urgent help as long as the army is still there.

Desks and chairs were damaged by the floods. Photo: File

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said the department welcomes help from all sectors, including the SANDF.

He said the department was waiting for its infrastructure manager to give the true cost of the damage.

Those who want to help can contact Mngadi on 061 402 9328 or email [email protected]

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