root - March 12, 2024

14 new classrooms were supposed to have been completed a year ago, but the contract has been terminated with only seven classrooms built

Peter Luhanga  

Efforts to alleviate overcrowding at the sole high school in Dunoon have been set back by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) terminating its contract with the primary contractor.

With only half of the 14 additional classrooms at Dunoon’s Inkwenkwezi Secondary School completed, the contract between the WCED and the building contractor has been terminated by  “mutual agreement”, according to the WCED minister’s spokesperson Kerry Mauchline.

Initially, the 14 classrooms were supposed to have been completed by the end of March last year. Some of the seven completed classrooms were also vandalised at the beginning of this year. 

Inkwenkwezi Secondary School is the only high school in Dunoon, and has three feeder primary schools.

Mauchline said the school was identified for additional classrooms to meet the high demand for placements, particularly for places in grade 8 and 9.

We asked Mauchline about the timelines for when the contract was awarded and the name of the contractor, but she would not disclose this information. When we inquired about the value of the contract, she did not respond. When we then asked whether this information was classified, she stopped replying.

In response to the initial questions, Mauchline stated that the contract was for the construction of 14 additional classrooms, with a completion deadline of 31 March 2023. 

She stated the additional classrooms were built using the “Moladi” building system, i.e. moulds with reinforced concrete to construct walls. There is a limited number of contractors certified to use the system.

Although she did not divulge the project timeline, she stated that in December 2022, sub-contractors to the primary contractor highlighted issues of non-payment to the WCED, seeking the department’s assistance to resolve payment before work could continue.

“When the primary contractor started experiencing financial issues, and defaulted on its payments to sub-contractors, work came to an abrupt halt with seven of the classes still incomplete,” stated Mauchline.

She said despite assurances by the primary contractor, they were unable to proceed with the project, and it was terminated “by mutual agreement”.

“There are no outstanding claims/monies owed by the department to the original contractor on this project. We are now proceeding to source and engage an alternative contractor to complete the project.”

She said relieving the placement pressure and overcrowding at Inkwenkwezi Secondary remains her department’s priority, and the WCED aims to have the remaining seven classrooms completed before the start of the second term 2024.  

Grade 8 and 9 enrolments at the school stand at 371 and 376 learners, respectively, with average class sizes of 46 and 54. Grades 10 and 11 are also bursting at the seams, with more than 40 learners in each class.

School principal Nokuzola Tyobile refused to discuss the project, referring us to the WCED.

Sinethembe Matomela, chairperson of the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) Dunoon branch, said they were shocked when they were informed at a community meeting that the school project had ground to a halt.

Matomela said when they approached Tyobile she also refused to discuss the project.

He said at the community meeting it was reported that some of the classrooms that had been completed, had been vandalised.

“Dunoon is overcrowded. We have three primary feeder schools and our high school cannot accommodate the entire Dunoon. Most of our kids have to go outside Dunoon and it’s costly for the parents,” said Matomela.

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