Fears over damaged phone line at school

Redhouse Primary pupils, from left, Lindokuhle Melani, Olwethu Mndawu and Liyema Khoza, all aged nine, use the damaged Telkom line as a skipping rope.
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

A telephone pole knocked over a week ago with the cable dangling in front of a Port Elizabeth school has yet to be repaired – raising fears about the safety of pupils.

Redhouse Primary School immediately reported the damage outside the school on Friday last week but has received no assistance from Telkom.

Principal Rochelle Bellairs said while the school’s landline was still operational, the line in her office had not been working since the damage occurred.

“I was outside when it happened. All I saw was this huge scrap metal vehicle knocking the [telephone] pole and then pulling away,” she said.

“We called Telkom immediately and have been contacting them every day ever since. We even spoke to head office but they are not responding to us.”

According to Bellairs, the damaged cable is located directly in front of the school’s driveway, forcing vehicles to drive over it.

“Our teachers have been driving over it and we also have construction vehicles working here at the moment and they are driving over it all day as well,” she said.

“I think this is extremely dangerous.”

Bellairs said while the cable did not appear to be live or show any sparks, she was still concerned someone could be injured.

“Our playschool children are dismissed at 12.30pm and some of them play outside while waiting for the bigger children to finish school at 2pm as they make use of the same transport,” she said.

“We have seen some of the children playing with the cable. We are very worried something could happen.

“It is almost one week later and we have called them every day.”

Teacher Kerri Marais said: “I have been on the phone with them each time and they keep saying they will get someone to attend to it.

“I eventually spoke to someone at head office but we are still waiting.”

But Telkom spokesman Gugu Maqetuka said the matter had only been reported yesterday and that a technician had immediately been sent out to investigate the damage.

“We understand that our overhead cables at this site were damaged by a contractor clearing bushes.

“We have undertaken to have the cables removed as early as possible [today],” he said.

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