The state should hang its head in shame over Driehoek bridge collapse

2019-02-05 00:01

Any loss of life is unacceptable, and the loss of young lives cannot be excused.

Maintenance at South Africa’s public schools has been lacking for many years.

The State’s fiscus, being stripped bare by state capture initiatives, Bosasa and other forms of economic sabotage, is under pressure to upgrade and maintain schools.

In addition, there is ever-increasing pressure to build new schools and to make good on the reckless promises about free education for all.

And on top of this, four pupils were killed when a walkway at their school in Vanderbijlpark collapsed on Friday.

Read: Death of high school learners needs accountability

Can the state explain to the parents who lost their children at Driehoek Hoërskool on February 1 why it has neglected the school infrastructure and the education system in exchange for enrichment schemes to the benefit of the New Elite?

Can the state also explain how all these self-enrichment schemes contribute to building a strong and competitive economy?

The government should hang its head in shame and self-deprecation.

The fact that this accident happened at a former Model-C school should not be used as an excuse to say someone has a racist motive, wishing to exaggerate the incident beyond all proportions.

Instead, the focus should be on the lives lost and on the aggravating factors of neglect that contributed to this terrible accident.

Read: Pupils say bridge was shaking days before collapse

Whether the accident happened at a so called “white monopoly capital” school or not, the fact remains that this accident was preventable.

The fact remains that someone overlooked a potential hazard that should have been removed to safeguard pupils and teachers alike.

A thorough investigation must be undertaken and the factors leading to this terrible incident must be identified and dealt with.

If it means that people lose their jobs because their negligence added to the accident, then let’s deal with the matter as civilly as possible.

Let’s hope that this incident is the first and the last.

Schools are the incubators of tomorrow’s leaders. Neglect, the lack of will to do the right things, self-enrichment, corruption, hate speech, racism and all other social vices cause these incubators to fail.

And a failed school system translates into a failed nation.

Peter van Nieuwenhuizen is chief financial officer of the Growth Institute, a private college focusing on management education, skills development and enterprise development.

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February 23 2020