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Ziggy Primary School in Mpheni that has been catering for learners since 2019 without being properly registered. Photo: Thembi Siaga.

Unregistered Ziggy Primary School operated unchecked since 2019

 

The parents of learners attending Ziggy Primary School in Mpheni village are questioning the lack of action taken by the Limpopo Department of Education. Some believe the department had known about the school that was operating without being registered for several years, but had not acted.

Last week, Limpopo Mirror reported on the Mpheni-based school with around 150 learners. Although the signboards describe it as Ziggy’s Primary School, it started doing business around 2018 under the name of Ziggy Children’s Centre. It initially functioned as an early-childhood development centre. According to parents who spoke to Limpopo Mirror, the institution began catering to Grade R learners in 2019, and subsequently, they added other grades each year until reaching Grade 6.

The school seems to be run by a private company, Ziggy Children’s Centre, that was registered in February 2018. The directors are Ms Elizabeth Makondo from Vuwani, along with Mr Herbert Zigara and his wife, Rugare Zigara, from Zimbabwe. The status of the company is indicated as in “final deregistration” because of outstanding reports and payments.

Ms Rugare Zigara was contacted two weeks ago but refused to respond to questions. She referred all queries to an attorney, Mr Thabelo Nengwekhulu. The attorney was evasive and also did not respond to questions. On Monday (25th) another attorney phoned and claimed that he was working alongside Nengwekhulu to assist Ziggy Primary School. He did not, however, respond to questions.

Mr Matome Taueatsoala, who is the spokesperson for the Limpopo MEC for Education, confirmed two weeks ago that the school is not registered and said that the department would investigate. More questions were sent to the MEC’s spokesperson last week, but he referred the reporter to Mosebjane Kgaffe, the education department’s acting spokesperson. Kgaffe came back with a short response, saying: “The Department of Education is busy conducting investigations; once the process is completed, feedback will be provided immediately.”

Meanwhile, the school’s management tried their best to quell fires and keep angry parents at bay. A WhatsApp message was sent out to parents last Friday, stating: “This person [Limpopo Mirror’s reporter] just wrote without getting information from our side, and he just wrote what he wanted. We don't even know where he got all that information he wrote. We suspect that he got all the information from the former Admin just to destroy the school. Ziggy is at good standing when it comes to the registration of the school. All are lies and even taking pictures without our permission.”

In the same message, however, the fact that the school is not registered is admitted and that a “Curriculum Advisor, Sir Sadiki” had signed their application. “Our application is now at the district. Waiting for it to be ferried to the province. He also emphasized that a school that has submitted its application can never be closed. Let's not be threatened by messages and calls about the closure of the school,” it states.

When Kgaffe was asked about such a pending registration and who Mr Sadiki is, he responded by saying that no official by that name worked at the Limpopo Department of Education. “We don’t find his name on the list of our curriculum advisers,” said Kgaffe.

One of the parents whose child had started there in Grade R told Limpopo Mirror that they were very concerned after being informed that the school was indeed not registered. “We were told that next year the school will cater for Grade 7 learners, and now we are stranded as to where we are going to take our children if the school closes,” she said.

 

 

Date:30 March 2024

By: Thembi Siaga

Thembi Siaga started as an intern during 2021. He assisted with video photography and editing. He also produced numerous small documentaries, focusing on the Vhembe region and its people. Currently he works as a freelance journalist, covering stories in the Elim area.

Thembi studied at the Tshwane University of Technology, where he completed his diploma in Journalism in 2021.

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