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Protest leads to removal of cell mast from school

According to Chatsworth Community Policing Forum chairman, Jakes Singh, members of the school governing body were present and have also expressed shock as they had no knowledge of the work resuming.

The mast was taken down following the protest.

Residents of Arena Park mobilised and marched to Crestview Primary School on Human Rights Day after receiving messages that the cell mast, which was initially objected to, was reinstalled.

According to Chatsworth Community Policing Forum chairman, Jakes Singh, members of the school governing body were present and have also expressed shock as they had no knowledge of the work resuming.

“Initially, attempts by the parent component of the SGB to talk to the principal reached a stalemate as he did not respond to their calls. An activist present called him and he responded by saying that he was out of town. The principal initially claims to be standing with the community on this issue but was the signatory to grant approval to this cell mast being erected on the school campus. Angry parents have pointed out that this principal, who resides outside Chatsworth, somewhere in the North Coast, does not have the interest nor cares for the safety of the children attending the school,” added Singh.

Residents came out to the site in their numbers to object to the erection of the mast.

After the residents objected strongly to the construction of the tower and threatened to camp at the site where the mast was erected until it is taken down, all workers and equipment were removed from the school.

“The contactors on site were spoken to but they said that they cannot stop the work as they were contracted by ATC the company in charge. Members of the school governing body were present and have also expressed shock as they had no knowledge of the work resuming. Residents engaged in discussions with the contactors and one of them had the audacity to report that the crane used does not have capacity to lift out the erected mast. It was then that the parents owed not to move from the school and will not let any construction vehicle, personnel, or equipment to leave the premises until the mast comes down,” he added.

Singh alleged that the principal was contacted several times, and was invited to come over and meet with the parents and residents.

He was thereafter asked by the parents to stop work on the erection of the mast and to bring it down.

Residents said they will camp at the site, where the mast was erected, until it is taken down.

“Finally, the principal instructed the contactor to stop work and to bring down the mast. The message from parents to the principal was very clear: that they will not leave until the mast comes down. Preparations for parents to camp overnight were well on the way. Residents united and in a show of strength, have exercised their democratic right on Human Rights Day and have sent a very strong message that the school belongs to the community and they need to be consulted on matters that affect them,” he said.

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Residents braved the inclement weather and sacrificed their day off from work, to take a stand and show that they are committed and mean business.

“Heavy machinery were on the playfields and fire hoses were used to take water for construction purposes. The SGB members stood with the community and have supported the cause. This peaceful protest has demonstrated that unity is strength,” he added.


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