Abduction are a great concern

Earlier this month, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) received reports of 2 kidnappings in the Zonneblom area and one attempted abduction in Rylands.

A fortnight ago, on 28 August 2018, we received another report of a Grade 9 learner from a Southern Suburbs school who was reportedly abducted and allegedly sexually assaulted while travelling to school on the morning of 23 August 2018.

“This raises concerns for our learners who travel alone to and from school, especially girls,” said Debbie Schaffer, the Education MEC in a statement.

The learner reported that men in a white BMW, with tinted windows, stopped next to her and pulled her into the car, before driving around with her for hours.

The matter has been reported to the South African Police Services Steenberg and the learner has received medical attention.

A school social worker and psychologist are also providing counselling to the learner and her family.

“The safety of our learners outside the school gates remains beyond our control, but schools need to ensure that there are safety measures in place at dismissal time,” said Schaffer.

She advised that learners, who are picked up at their school by parents or caregivers, should remain within the school property until they have visibly identified their mode of transport.

Learners, who require public transport and are expected to walk to their relevant departure areas, should travel in groups at all times. However, where feasible, parents must please arrange that this is as close to the school as possible.

“Schools should ensure that learners are aware of “stranger danger”.

While we do not want to frighten them, they must know that they should be wary and immediately seek help if a stranger approaches them.

Learners must be taught not to accept any free food, drinks, money or objects from strangers and should report any suspicious characters to an educator or administrator at the school as soon as possible,” she said.

Last week, the Head of Department Brian Schreuder also issued communication to schools to remind them to review and update their safety policies, particularly around access control and to ensure that procedures are in place to deal with reported abduction cases.

Any incidents should be reported to SAPS immediately, as well as to the Safe Schools Call centre 0800 45 46 47.

“While I understand that it is difficult for the extremely under resourced SAPS to patrol every road that learners travel on, I urge them to please increase patrols during the morning and afternoons when learners are travelling to and from schools. I also urge parents and community members to be extra vigilant and to report any suspicious vehicles or persons immediately to the SAPS,” she said.

Learners, parents and teachers may phone the Safe Schools Call Centre for counselling and advice on 0800454647.