By Chrispin Inambao
A hostel worker at the Divundu Combined School in Mukwe Circuit is the prime suspect in the alleged disappearance of a load of mattresses meant for hostel students some of whom have been sleeping on the floor.
Boarders at the school endure a Spartan life as they share wafer-thin, cockroach-infested mattresses while others have to eat their meals standing – for lack of chairs.
Last Thursday, barely a day after a Government lorry unloaded 50 mattresses at the school to ease the plight of female boarders who have been sleeping on a cold and hard floor, 10 brand new mattresses vanished into thin air.
Sources suspect an inside job.
Impeccable sources at the school revealed that the batch had consisted of 50 mattresses at the time of delivery on Wednesday, but by Thursday only 40 could be distributed.
With 464 learners, Divundu Combined School has a hostel superintendent, a chief hostel matron who supervises a matron tasked with catering and another matron for housekeeping.
The hostel superintendent at Divundu summoned a hostel manager at the school, who happens to be a senior student and informed him about the latest in a string of thefts at the school and sources are worried the issue would as usual be swept under the carpet.
They say the principal, Ben Mukendo, for reasons only known to him, has in the past appeared indecisive and is somehow ‘afraid’ of one particular worker because in the past he did not take any punitive sanction against the worker.
A case in point was early last year when the worker was caught red-handed in possession of an expensive home theatre system initially reported stolen from school premises. The home theatre system is used for both educational and entertainment purposes.
The home theatre system was stolen during the night from the dining hall (DH) where 250 boarders receive their meals and initially teachers had wanted to implicate students.
A source said the suspect is the one who shouted the loudest blaming students.
But one male teacher who has since left the school to further his education at the University of Namibia (Unam) made an announcement that the school will enlist the services of an African witch-hunter whose voodoo will make the culprit go insane.
And that the dark art would not only mentally unhinge the thief but that he/she would aimlessly roam the streets naked, the teacher is said to have announced in the DH.
The ominous threat was leaked to the suspect by way of the bush telegraph and that same night the unnerved worker was spotted carrying the home theatre system back to the DH.
Despite being spotted by students with the damning evidence, no action was ever taken against the suspect.
Students further revealed that even before prices of food soared, some hostel staff members were in the habit of stealing food such as chicken, fish, cooking oil and rice meant for the students.
They usually arrive with empty bags but that are laden with food by the time they go home.
As if this was not enough students were last year each asked to make a contribution of N$20 presumably for the construction of a wall around the school, but so far only 60 sub-standards bricks some of them already crumbling and some with cracks, have been delivered.
When contacted for comment the principal said he was briefed about the mattresses being delivered but strangely the staff members who briefed him conveniently appeared to have ‘forgotten’ to tell him about the missing mattresses.
He said he was hearing about the theft of the mattresses for the first time.
On the disappearance of the home theatre system, the principal said he was under the impression the home theatre was ‘stolen’ by students, this despite evidence to the contrary.
“The hostel superintendent and the chief matron only reported to me about the delivered mattresses, but they never reported some mattresses are missing. I am hearing this for the first time. If anything goes wrong, they must report to me,” explained Mukendo.
When asked about the project to construct a wall fence at the school, an agitated Mukendo said: “That one was the project initiated and run by the superintendent. He is the one who collected the bricks and the money. That one is none of my business.”
Spokesperson at the Ministry of Education, Toivo Mvula, said he would only follow up the issue today with the regional education director.