Suiderlig School kitchen up in flames

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-Suiderlig High School’s kitchen burned down last Thursday, forcing the school to urgently make other arrangements to feed the 200 hostel learners. The fire caused extensive damage to the kitchenware, mainly to the steam pot, the electrical stove, main frying pan and other cooking utensils.

Although the cause of the fire has not yet been established by police investigators, New Era is reliably informed hostel staff on duty might have left the steam pot on, which may have caused the fire.

Chief matron of the Keetmanshoop-based school Carolina Engelbrecht said she received a phone call at about 02h30 on Thursday to alert her that the kitchen was on fire.

She said she asked her subordinates if they had switched off all appliances after finishing dinner preparations and they all swore they had put everything off before leaving, but she said it seems this was not the case, as the police investigators realised the water that is usually left in the steam pot had evaporated, leading them to suspect the pot was not switched off, thus causing the fire.

“There was no water in the steam pot; that is what the investigators questioned and we suspect this is what might have started the fire,” she said.

Engelbrecht said although the kitchen was in ashes and unusable, the hostel learners did not go hungry as other arrangements were made to ensure they had breakfast. She gave assurances that the learners will receive their daily meals.

Some learners New Era spoke to were, however, concerned about the situation, saying they received their lunch very late – about 15h00, while they are supposed to have lunch at 13h00. The learners said the food received was not enough compared to the cooked meals they usually get and said it was not enough to sate their hunger.

“We have two slices of bread and a Russian [sausage]. What will that do? And we were supposed to eat at one [o’clock], but look at the time now, it is two hours after lunch,” said one of the learners.

School principal Deon Williams confirmed the fire incident, saying there was substantial damage caused to the kitchen. He said it was too early to elaborate on the damage and what it might cost. He also confirmed there are already contractors on site to see if the kitchen can be renovated as soon as possible for learners to get back to their normal setting.

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