Pupils and staff at Athlone North Primary School in Kewtown got a skrik when they arrived at school to find the library they had painstakingly built over the past eight years and a Grade R classroom destroyed by fire.
Principal Beverley Daniels says she was contacted during the early hours of the morning by a parent saying the school was on fire.
“The police have two stories. In the one case people say the guys broke in and started the fire and in the other case they say gangsters were fighting and one of them shot a flare which landed on the roof and the fire started,” she explains.
Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Theo Layne, says firefighters received the call at 1.56am and the blaze was extinguished at 4.44am.
He says at this stage they suspect arson, but says police are investigating the matter.
Police spokesperson, Sinathi Joni, confirms that police are investigating an arson case and says no arrests have been made yet.
Daniels says the pupils are devastated and just last week the school implemented a system to allow children to take books home.
“We started the library in 2010 and we took the cupboards and made shelves. Over the years we collected book donations and paint, and last year we received a R20 000 book donation, it was all new.
“We started the loaning system last week because the closest library for our children is Athlone Library, and because of the shooting it is not safe for them.”
She says the library, which caters for more than 500 pupils, had just been equipped with new computers to help with research projects.
They had planned to switch the computers on for the first time on Monday, but the equipment was also destroyed in the fire.
Daniels says 32 Grade R learners were sent home on Monday because they could not be accommodated.
The pupils are expected to return to school today and will now be taught in the staff room.
The fire department has condemned the burnt section of the school and access to the area has been restricted.
Daniels says they are still estimating the cost of the damage, and have been informed that the Western Cape Education Department will fix the building.
“But all the books and the equipment are gone and we need help to rebuild the library with books and the equipment for the Grade R class.”
If you would like to assist, contact the school on 021 637 6608.