More than 300 students were left stranded after a private college they had registered with closed shop overnight and its owners disappeared into thin air.

Bradford College in Randburg, Johannesburg, catered for learners from Grade 1 to 12 and also ran a nursing and engineering college.

All those who had registered at the college had their dreams dashed after owners Zimbabweans Shingi Chawanda and Shumba Vimbai packed up and left without trace.

Fanele Moyo, who was one of the teachers at the school, told Sunday World that she smelt a rat when the owners failed to pay her and other educators for months.

Moyo said she had stopped going to work when the owners made more promises but was shocked to find an empty shell when she went back to school on June 5.

She said she was told the learners were taken to another school – Eagle Christian School – by Chawanda just before he left.

Eagle Christian School principal Sylvester Apaloo confirmed that Chawanda brought the children to his school but said it was under false pretences, claiming his school building was having water leakage problems.

“The next day when I tried to get hold of both of them they were unavailable,” said Apaloo. I was now stuck with these children.

“I started Amazing Grace in 2008 and we operate as Eagle Christian School, but we are not registered as an exam centre so I unfortunately couldn’t keep the matriculants.

“What they did is not right because it paints all independent schools with the same brush,” said Apaloo.

Matric pupil Brandon Kyd was meant to rewrite his matric exam in November last year but the school failed to register him and others.

Kyd, who was paying R800 per month, said his father almost came to blows with the owners after learning that he wouldn’t be able to write.

Brandon said: “I had no idea they had closed. No one informed me. I have no idea what I’m going to do now.”

Noluthando Hadebe, a first year community health student, said she paid a registration fee of R2600 and was paying R900 per month.

Gauteng department of education confirmed that Bradford College was registered with them but said according to their records, Eagle Christian College was not registered.

Spokesman Steve Mabona said they would serve Eagle Christian School with a letter of intention to shut them down.