Home South Africa News 50 Western Cape schools targeted by criminals during lockdown

50 Western Cape schools targeted by criminals during lockdown

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classroom

Fifty Western Cape schools have come under siege from criminals since the start of lockdown, with thieves making off with learning resources worth hundreds of thousands of rand. The provincial scenario takes the number of schools targeted nationally to 233.

The Basic Education Department this week announced that 183 schools were vandalised in 18 days, including 55 schools in Gauteng, 72 in Mpumalanga and seven in North West.

Western Cape schools that have been targeted stretched from the Cape Flats to the Winelands and the Karoo.

At Lwandle Primary School in Khayelitsha, thieves hit on Easter Sunday and made their way into the administration, where they stole the secretary’s computer. They then moved to the principal’s office by breaking the door.

The Sosebenza Primary school governing body (SGB), also in Khayelitsha, said computers kept in a storeroom were stolen.

Fortunately, a mother blew the whistle on her child whom she suspected of being involved, said SGB chairperson Thokozani Ncayiyana.

“While inspecting the school last Thursday, we noticed that the burglar bars at the storage room were bent. Two boxes that had computers and a keyboard were gone.

“The next day, a resident, who doesn’t stay far from the school reported that her child could have been involved because she found a box in his room.

“We were able to recover the stolen items. Our schools are vulnerable to being targeted by criminals, either because of a lack of security or proper fencing, something that is not new,” said Ncayiyana.

Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the majority of incidents had been in the Metro Central district, followed by the Eden and Central Karoo districts.

“The WCED would like to thank community members who have reported suspicious behaviour in and around our schools.

“We would also like to appeal to all communities to please assist us further by reporting suspicious activity or the sale of goods obtained at schools. Some incidents occurred during the day, and not at night time,” she said.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga condemned the incidents of vandalism, burglary and destruction of schools.

“It is quite disheartening that criminal elements in our communities could destroy the infrastructure of their own children with such apparent impunity.

“I am in constant touch with the minister of police (Bheki Cele), and with the assistance of the state intelligence forces, we are following leads to the immediate arrest and prosecution of every single criminal responsible,” she said.

In his weekly newsletter, President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was despicable that criminals were using the lockdown as a cover to break the law when law enforcement authorities were occupied with supporting the national effort to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is a great indictment of our society that dozens of schools have been burgled, trashed or burnt to the ground. When the lockdown is lifted and learning resumes, thousands of our children will have no school to return to, depriving them of the right to education.

“That public property is being vandalised while the entire country is experiencing hardship because of the lockdown is a demonstration of utter disrespect and disregard for the majority of South Africans who are law abiding.”

Meanwhile, teacher unions are hard at work, along with the Department of Basic Education, to find ways to catch up on time lost in the current academic year.

Almost five weeks have been lost after schools were closed to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA executive director Basil Manuel said they were in discussions with the department on a way forward and he believed there was enough time to catch up.

Motshekga is expected to make proposals before the Cabinet this week that will outline measures to make up for the lost time.

Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said: “The minister presented the Department of Basic Education’s recovery plan to the National Coronavirus Command Council yesterday (Monday) and we anticipate that the Cabinet is going to consider the proposals on Wednesday (today). The minister will unveil the plans thereafter.”

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Source: Cape Times