Defend Truth


What it takes to build two much-needed schools in Wallacedene amid sabotage, intimidation and arson


David Maynier is the Western Cape Minister of Education.

After repeated acts of vandalism, arson and death threats, we had to take legal action on an urgent basis. The Western Cape high court has now issued an interim interdict against the Oostenberg Football Association to end the intimidation, criminal damage, and disruption of the construction of two schools.

Our Rapid School Build programme aims to build beautiful, safe schools in poor communities where they are needed in the Western Cape. But the construction of two schools at the Blueridge Sports Complex in Wallacedene is a story about what it takes to build a new school.

The Western Cape Department of Education has a well-placed, suitable piece of land made available to us by the City of Cape Town, and which can be readily serviced. These are far more conducive land-related factors than we have for many other construction projects.

The project includes a primary school and a high school, along with a multipurpose sports hall that will be available for use by both the schools and the community. Once completed, the schools will provide places for 2,240 learners in a high-quality learning environment.

These schools are urgently needed, as the demand for placement greatly exceeds the available school places in the area, but the project is more meaningful than that.

The Wallacedene community faces major challenges, with crime, gangsterism and poverty being a daily feature of the lives of learners and parents. It is exactly these communities where we need to bring hope and possibility, and education is one of the most direct ways to do this.

Read more in Daily Maverick: City of Cape Town earmarks millions for private security to halt land occupations

So when I first visited the site just over a year ago, we were excited to launch this game-changing project in Wallacedene. We had great community buy-in and support from the City of Cape Town, so it was all systems go to have the school ready for learners in 2023.

But that excitement was short-lived because as soon as the contractor began work in November 2022, a group of individuals, some of whom have identified themselves as members of a local soccer club, the Oostenberg Football Association, removed all the pegs laid out by the contractor in an attempt to halt the construction.

Despite the contractor hiring security for the site so they could get back to work, on 2 December 2022, a large number of alleged soccer club members ransacked the site storage container, and set the site office container alight, completely destroying it. Criminal charges were laid, but ultimately, the contractor would not return to site for safety reasons.

Gangsters stalling progress

A new contractor was appointed to begin site preparation, and on 12 September 2023 a City of Cape Town official visited the property to check on progress.

The official was approached by an unknown man, handed a cellphone, and proceeded to be threatened by the caller with bodily harm if he did not leave the site immediately. Fearing for his life, he left the property and reported the incident to Kraaifontein police, where he was reportedly advised not to make a complaint as the owner of the soccer club is alleged to be a drug kingpin, and the official was told that he would be hunted down and killed if he laid a charge.

On 21 September 2023, a security team was stationed at the site when a group of 30 men, some wearing the soccer club regalia, approached the security team and threatened them with a firearm if they did not leave the property immediately. Fearing for their lives, they left the property.

The next morning, it was discovered that the storeroom container on site had been set alight and destroyed, and access to the property blocked and locked, and once again, a charge was laid with the police.

It is difficult to understand why anyone would be opposed to the construction of the schools and be willing to engage in repeated criminal acts. The disruption is clearly not about the availability of sporting facilities because four soccer fields will remain at the Blueridge site, which can be booked by members of the public, including any sports groups, in the same manner as they currently are — through a public booking system.

In fact, the City of Cape Town plans to upgrade these fields, with the addition of floodlights, changing rooms and a multi-purpose sports hall that will be utilised by both the schools and the public.

It is also not about a lack of consultation, because repeated engagements have been held with the community, which is very supportive of the project, and a variety of local sports clubs — including the disruptive soccer club itself. From those engagements, it would appear that the matter at hand is that the soccer club wants a guarantee that it will be the only soccer club allowed to play at the Blueridge Sports Complex.

The group demonstrated a clear intention to prevent the construction of the two schools from taking place unless their demand for exclusive use is met, and they have shown themselves willing to sacrifice the education of the children of their community to achieve this.

Oostenberg Football Association interdicted

It was abundantly clear to us that the club would not stop disrupting work at the site, so as a last resort, we had to take legal action on an urgent basis. The Western Cape high court has now issued an interim interdict to end the intimidation, criminal damage, and disruption of the construction of two schools.

The order interdicts the Oostenberg Football Association, all members and persons who associate with it and its aims, and those whose identities are not yet known, from unlawful acts including blocking access to the site, damaging equipment and facilities, trespassing, intimidation, harassment, assault, incitement of unlawful and disruptive conduct, and incitement of violence.

Our contractor is now back on site and hard at work, and law enforcement is assisting with the implementation of the interdict, supported by private security which adds to the expense of the project. When I visited the site earlier this week for the second time, it was wonderful to see the collective resolve to ensure that the project gets completed.

The buy-in from community leaders, nearby schools, councillors, the City, law enforcement, contractors, security teams and the department sends a clear message: we will not back down, we will overcome the challenges, and we will deliver beautiful, safe schools for the children of Wallacedene. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • James Webster says:

    You can take a savage to the water but you can’t make them drink.

  • Ben Harper says:

    Look no further than the anc, these criminal gangs are supported and protected by the anc and their cronies in SAPS to further their intent to overthrow the legitimate and successful government in the WC

  • John Patson says:

    One of the trouble with “public consultation” is the people who turn up to be consulted are inevitably the good, caring people in the community.
    Bad elements are never consulted, and do not want to be, relying on badness to get their way.
    Makes one wonder if there is any point in the time and money spent on “public consultation.”

  • Change is good sa says:

    These violent interventions from so called ‘Soccer teams’ are gang related and backed by political players to disrupt the DA service delivery.
    A vote against the ANC (stealing our future one billion rand at a time) and the EFF (their hate speech says it all) next year will deliver the change we all want to see.

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