The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) has denied claims that the state-of-the-art Mayibuye Primary School in Tembisa was built on a wetland.
According to department spokesperson Bongiwe Gambu, engineers had conducted a wetland test after a team working on the school discovered water seeping onto the premises.
Gambu said the tests resulted in the digging of several ditches in the school yard, and it was discovered that there was an "old sewage line that had been leaking for years".
The school in Ekurhuleni, which was supposed to reopen three years ago, was reportedly built at a cost of R82m and remains unoccupied.
The Department of Basic Education directed News24's queries regarding the infrastructure back to DID.
Gambu said the City of Johannesburg did not have any records of a sewage line and that a report had been submitted, adding that if it had been known about, the department would have been told before building the structure.
She added that an environmental assessment was also done before the school was built on the land.
Gambu said another major issue at the school was that people had illegally built houses where the access road to the school was meant to be built.
This meant the department needed to identify another entrance.
"Unfortunately this happened during construction, when we had prepared the land for construction, then people started building and we call that encroachment," she said.
According to a report by TimesLive, Gauteng legislature portfolio committee chair Mpho Modise said those responsible for the project needed to be held accountable. The committee visited the school for an inspection on Tuesday.
Gambu told News24 that Treasury had already advised her department – as well as its client, the Gauteng Department of Basic Education (GDE) – on how funds could be accessed for the completion of the project.
The GDE is also in the process of finalising the acquisition of the funds so a DID contractor can return to site, the spokesperson added.
"We sent a structural engineer to the site [who] assessed the structure and the facility and they found that the facility was structurally sound, which means we only have to deal with the defects that need to be addressed as soon as the contractor resumes with the works," Gambu told News24.
She said the sewage pipe needs to be redirected because it could not be closed off completely and that the facility would only be ready for occupation once all the work was completed.
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane also visited the school on Friday, describing it as "the Nkandla of the department [of education]".
Maimane said the school had been "built on a wetland".
He added that those who had approved building the school on the site, as well as the contractor, had to be investigated.
"I think Angie Motshekga must actually resign here because it's R82 million that's wasted here from the people of South Africa."
Maimane said he would be laying criminal charges against the contractor who had won the tender to build the school
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