Thieves broke into a South African township school this weekend where St. Joseph’s Academy graduates and faculty had set up a computer lab.

“The St. Joseph’s graduates weren’t at the school when it was vandalized,” said Mindy Averitt, the school’s communications director.

Averitt, who is in Baton Rouge, said she spoke to John Richardson, the school’s director of technology.

Richardson and a delegation from the academy arrived in South Africa a week ago to wire township schools for the Internet.

“John said they got some computers and cabling,” Averitt said.

The thieves apparently learned of the computer lab from a nationally televised story Friday night in South Africa, Averitt said.

“They took the stuff,” a South African student told Richardson, “but they can’t take the knowledge you gave us,” Averitt said.

“They’ll stay up Monday night and rebuild the lab as much as they can before they leave Wednesday,” Averitt said.

Two members of the Baton Rouge group have been blogging about their work in South Africa at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/stjosephs/.

The St. Joseph’s Academy computer mission is based at Penryn College in Nelspruit, about a four-hour drive east of Johannesburg.

The township school where the group set up the computer lab is about 20 minutes from Nelspruit.

The St. Joseph’s graduates are expected back in Baton Rouge this weekend.