In a pre-emptive strike against attacks on school property over the holidays, 16 primary and secondary schools in Gugulethu met earlier this week to draw up theft- and vandalism-prevention strategies.
Along with representatives from the 16 schools, the meeting was attended by local police, the Community Policing Forum, and members of the Western Province’s Safer Schools Programme. The schools’ principals fear the buildings will once again be the target of hooligans breaking in and vandalising property, as has happened regularly in the past.
This is the second year in which the schools have come together to take preventative action ahead of closure for holidays.
Gugulethu Schools Safety Cluster chairperson, Zola Phahlana, who is also principal of ID Mkhize High school, said vandalism was a “huge problem” over school holidays.
“Criminals break into school buildings, steal copper wires, computers, stoves, doors and handles, and kitchen electrical appliances,” said Phahlana.
He said there was a need to be proactive and to engage the community to help. In addition, the police were also getting involved.
“We have engaged the police to come on board and assist us,” he said.
Phahlana said over the past six months, since the group last met in December, fewer schools in the area had experienced burglaries than in previous years.
Part of the action plan was the decision to hire a security company to guard the schools day and night. The Safer Schools Programme would also help with the guarding of the properties, said Phahlana.
In a statement by Education MEC, Donald Grant, he called on parents to take an active role.
“In terms of school security, and the prevention of burglary and vandalism, we call on parents and community members to report any suspicious behaviour at our schools to the police”.
He said the Safe Schools Programme had beefed up security at high-risk schools. “They have put in place 24-hour security patrols at 100 identified schools and 246 schools will receive cluster patrols during the holiday period.
“We urge schools to make sure that their alarm systems are in a working condition and that they test whether their armed response companies would respond should their alarms be activated,” said Grant.
A Safe School’s holiday programme will be launched on the 10th of June at Tygerberg High School and will provide learners with creative and fun alternatives to crime and violence, as well as engage in formal education activities. – West Cape News