After waiting over 10 years for the KwaN-obuhle Bridge to be built, pupils from 15 different schools in the area who have been living in fear are hopeful that soon they will be able to cross safely the bridge to get to school.
The principal at Solomon Mahlangu High School Mncedi Mtngwana said, since the bridge collapsed due to heavy rain over 10 years ago, the pupils from the school walk through the valley to get to and from school.
The valley, which has been labelled the ‘crocodile river’ as criminals lie in wait to pounce on their next victim is not only used by the pupils at the various schools, but the Khayelitsha community as well.
“There have been so many cases where pupils have walked through the valley to get to school and were robbed, assaulted and even raped,” said Mtngwana.
“One pupil was walking home at about 17:00 after attending extra classes at the school when she was assaulted and raped by one of the criminals hiding in the valley. The criminal then proceeded to keep her hostage throughout the night.”
He further said the drop-out rate at the school has increased because the pupils feared crossing the valley.
“During each school assembly I plead with the pupils to take a different route but when they are late for school, they take the shortest route which is through the valley,” said Mtngwana.
Out of frustration the Makhukhanye Social Movement which was established in 2010 and focused on issues that affect the community embarked on protest action in July last year together with the pupils and teachers from Solomon Mahlangu High and community members.
On the same day, the social movement also handed over petitions signed by the community to Nelson Mandela Bay Roads and Transport MMC Rosie Daaminds and ward 44 councillor Nomsa Booi who were both present at the protest action.
Mtngwana said after handing over the petition, representatives from the ward councillor’s office informed the school that the bridge will be built soon and that the school will be given regular updates on the progress of the bridge.
He said since late last year he has noticed that there has been regular construction work in the area.
“I am so happy to see that the bridge will be built soon and once it is built it will be a celebration for the school,” said Mtngwana.
He further said he would like the municipality to add paving from the bridge towards the school and he believes it is important to ensure that the bridge is built in a way that pupils can clearly be seen crossing the bridge.
Phumla Runeli who is the chairperson of the women’s forum within the Makhukhanye Social Movement said she too has noticed that construction has started at the site.
She further said she was concerned because it seemed as though they were building a similar bridge to the previous one.
“The previous bridge was low, and it was not strong enough. We cannot have the same bridge but instead we need a strong bridge,” said Runeli.
Questions sent to municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki were unanswered at the time of going to print.
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