School crime taken to premier
The safety of learners and educators in schools around Khayelitsha came under the spotlight on Monday when the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) and the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) forced a shutdown of all schools in the area.
Concerned community leaders and students descended on the offices of Premier Helen Zille to hand over grievances. They were prevented from marching, however, as they did not have the permission to do so.
Premier Helen Zille met the protesters at Kaizergracht to accept their memorandum.
March organisers, including the Congress of South African Schools (Cosas), said they were tired of school robberies.
In recent weeks, schools have experienced a surge in robbery incidents, where thugs targeted teachers and school property.
Teachers run the gamut of robbery of belongings during school hours. This has negatively affected schools in the area, they say.
They are now demanding tighter security in and around schools in Khayelitsha.
The proposed security measures include proper fencing of all schools, the appointment of security guards, proper access control including remote controlled access and the installation of CCTV cameras.
The group also called for proper policing and daily patrols to protect people going to work and learners going to school.
Sanco treasurer in Khayelitsha, Fundeka Qolo, said they wanted tighter security at schools around the clock.
“Criminals walk into schools and rob teachers at gunpoint, and in other schools, they break in and steal equipment meant to help our children,” she said.
Qolo added that neighbourhood watchers were not well trained to deal with school safety.
“We are told that there is equal education but we don’t see that because white schools are better secured than ours,” she said.
“We demand proper security for the safety of our children.”
Cosas provincial chairperson Mpumzi Giwu said as learners they had to take part in the march because they were also affected.
“When a teacher is robbed, they suffer from trauma and have to take stress leave, which means, we won’t have a teacher for the duration of the leave,” said Giwu.
He said the provincial department of education had promised schools security guards, but that never materialised. That was why they needed intervention from the premier.
KDF deputy chairperson Thandi Msuthu said criminals entered schools without anyone knowing. She said they wanted the government to intervene because schools were unsafe for children.
Protesters gave Zille seven days to respond to their demands.
Premier spokesperson, Marcellino Martin, said despite not being aware of the march, they had agreed to accept the memorandum, as they shared the same concerns.
“WCED will provide further details about their various school safety initiatives. It is important to note that safety in general is a function of the SAPS, which is the mandate of national government,” he added.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said she condemns protest action during school hours, especially illegal protest action.