‘Illegal’ Tenants Hijack Classrooms – Durban

Pupils returning to Phambili High school after the Easter break may be without classrooms as some rooms have been taken over by illegal tenants, who have marked their spaces by laying mattresses on the floor.
A building that belongs to a Durban high school and meant to be used for teaching and learning, has allegedly been “hijacked” by EFF members.The block of classrooms belong to the Phambili High School in Rossburgh and is located across the road from the main school precinct.

The building was first taken over more than 10 years ago by illegal tenants.

In February, pupils complained about overcrowding in their classrooms.

They demanded the illegal tenants vacate the building. The school has about 1000 pupil in 17 classrooms.

An agreement was subsequently reached with the illegal tenants and three classes were made available to ­accommodate grade 10 and 11 pupils.

However, during the Easter weekend break, the illegal tenants took over the three classrooms again.

They threw out the desks and chairs and moved in.

A source, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation said: “EFF leader Mawethu Mathe told us that he was prepared to die to defend the illegal tenants.

“The matter has been reported to the department. But, for now, we do not know how we are going to accommodate all these people.

“We are now facing a problem as new people have taken over those classes,” said the source.

Mathe who is the EFF interim provincial organiser rubbished the allegations and denied it was a school building.

He said it was a residential building where people have been living for the past 20 years. He accused the school and its leaders of forceful and illegal evictions and said their role as the EFF was to defend people who were being victimised.

“We do so, with the blessing of the party in the province and nationally,” said Mathe.


“As far as we know, that was a crèche. Pupils were used by the principal and the school governing body to harass and force people out of their homes.

“If they claim to have a right to the building they should go to court and get an eviction order,” he said.

During a visit by The Mercury yesterday morning, the building appeared to be in a dilapidated state, with broken windows and doors and without electricity.

One of the three classrooms had a bed, another a TV stand and the third was filled with blankets and appeared to have people living in it.

One woman was washing clothes and she did not respond when greeted.

When the Mercury photographer started taking pictures she called someone to let them know about our presence.

The person advised her not to talk to us.

DA MPL Dr Rishigen Viranna said he has written to the MEC for Education, Mthandeni Dlungwana, and Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay to urgently intervene.

Department of Education spokesperson Scelo Khuzwayo said the matter had been reported to them.

“The building was being used for learning and to remove equipment for studying is undermining education itself,” said Khuzwayo.

By: Thami Magubane/The Mercury