Fire at St Mark's High!
MBABANE – Building material worth abut E2 500 disappeared from St Marks High School recently, and the administration sought the assistance of the police.
The school wanted answers regarding the disappearance of the material, which was to be used in constructing new classrooms. However, four days after the matter was reported to the Mbabane police, the school’s storeroom went up in flames, destroying property worth over E100 000. This was on June 13, 2012.
Since then, the incident has not been made public. It has been established that the administration was so gutted by the occurrence that it could not decide how and when to make it known, especially to parents.
Information gathered is that on June 8, 2012 the school’s administration conducted a stocktaking exercise - to inspect if the stored material had not been tampered with. The school has two storerooms, both of which are used to keep the building material, which was bought through funds sourced from parents and government. It was to be used for the construction of a Form Six class.
A well-placed source said during the stocktaking exercise, it was discovered that an unknown person had entered the storeroom situated next to the boarding master’s house and allegedly stole some items. The police say indications are that the suspect entered the storeroom using a key. They have substantiated their findings by pointing out that there are no openings a burglar could have used to enter. The source said: "Following the discovery of the alleged theft, it was suggested that the other storeroom also be checked to find out if the intruder had not stolen anything from there.
However, the check was scheduled to take place the following week." It has been gathered that on June 13, 2012 the school’s storeroom went up in smoke. The incident happened around 7pm. It is said the fire was spotted by some pupils in the boarding school who raised an alarm.The storeroom is situated a stone’s throw from the male boarding school block. Initially, the storeroom was used as a Squash Court where the pupils play the sport. It was however turned into a storeroom after the other storage-house became full. On the day of the incident, it is said fire personnel were called to the school to put out the flames. The firemen are said to have spent three hours extinguishing the fire before they left. However, just before dawn, the storeroom went up in flames again.
"We were woken up by flames and when we checked, we discovered that they were from the same storeroom the firemen had just attended to," narrated our informant. It is said the firefighters were again called to the school and they responded promptly. They put out the second fire but when the place was inspected later, it was discovered that the fire once again rekindled. The fire department had to be called back a third time.
Reporters from the Times SUNDAY on Thursday visited the school and Principal Dominic Nxumalo was reportedly not present. However, both the school’s deputy principals Nelson Gule and Rejoice Ndzinisa were present.
They confirmed the mysterious incident. Ndzinisa said the matter had been reported to the police.
"At the moment we are still in the dark on what caused the fire," she said.
Meanwhile, Gule said, "The matter is now with the police and we are still waiting for the outcome of their investigations."
Principal Dominic Nxumalo, who was interviewed by telephone later, also said the police were currently working on the matter.
"We are still waiting for the police report. The property that got stolen was delivered to the school by government," he said. Superintendent Wendy Hleta, Police Public Relations Officer, also confirmed the matter.
"Two matters were reported by St Marks High School and we are currently investigating. Firstly, police are investigating the theft or disappearance of the school’s building material. However, indications are that the culprit used keys to enter the storeroom," said the police spokesperson.
"Secondly, we are also investigating the cause of the fire which burnt items worth over E100 000," she said.
She said so far no one had been arrested.
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