Botleng Secondary School an icon and a historical reference point in the community went up in flames last week Saturday. The cause of the fire has divided the community, some attributed the fire to arson whilst the Victor Khanye Local Municipality (VKLM) fire chief from the firefighting division indicated that the signs led to the cause being an electric fire.
The arson reporters who are the school authorities were indicating that a group of boys hunting within the school premises set the class room on fire all before the two classrooms and the office caught fire. The VKLM fire department responded to put out the fire which gushed a thick fume of smoke over the Botleng community.
The Mpumalanga Department of Education issued a statement that also carried the uncertainty over the actual cause of the fire with a leaning towards arson. The Statement issued by Jasper Zwane stated that “the circumstances that triggered the fire are still unknown to the Department” and yet a paragraph later on the same statement takes a dichotomy indicating that “A case of arson has been opened and the police are investigating”.
However, as the week proceeded and SAPS investigations together with the aid of eye witnesses and the would-be perpetrators indications are that school kids gained access to the classroom and started a fire inside the classroom to cook the catch of the day – birds. The school kids then lost control of the fire which resulted in the burning down of the two classrooms and the office. The cause of the fire has now been officially stated as an accidental fire with no malicious intentions, the cause therefore nullifies both the electrical fault report which was issued to the Highveld Chronicle after the incident and that of arson, the arson is nullified on the grounds that there was no intention to cause harm to the premises when initially setting the fire alight. The confessions and the evidence in the pattern of the fire has united the fire department and the school authorities who were seemingly on different fronts issuing differing reports to the SAPS and the media.