Cops keep gangs out of schools
Live ammunition, stolen goods and dagga are among the items Cape Town Metro Police have confiscated from pupils in the past seven months.
Thirty-six officers - armed with guns, pepper spray and bulletproof vests - have been stationed at some of the Cape Flats ' most dangerous schools.
Four pupils have been arrested for fraud, possession of dagga and stolen goods.
Known as school resource officers, they were first deployed in April. They control gates and conduct random searches of pupils.
The project, backed by the Western Cape education department and the US embassy, has drawn criticism from the national Department of Education, which says it could place pupils in danger. But principals and pupils have praised the project.
At Cedar High School in Mitchells Plain officers interacted with friendly pupils making their way to the school.
Pupil Denzel Pretorius said: "There are fewer fights now at schools, fewer drugs. The [police] are nice [to the pupils]."
Principal David Charles said the metro officers had built up trust with the pupils.
"They are keeping away the gangsters. Before it was easier for them to access the school, but with law enforcement here they don't take chances," he said.
Bathandwa Stimela, a pupil at Oscar Mpetha High School in Nyanga, said thugs used to stroll into classes - using an opening at the back of the school - and rob pupils at their desks.
"It's been a while since that happened," he said.
Oscar Mpetha principal Dumile Mawisa said violent incidents between pupils at the school had dropped since the officers were deployed.
City of Cape Town figures show that goods confiscated include four live rounds of ammunition, 23 dagga cigarettes, 59 small parcels of dagga , five dagga plants and 16 pairs of scissors.
The metro officers are deployed at schools in Nyanga, Gugulethu, Hanover Park, Bishop Lavis, Manenberg and Delft, among others.
Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security Jean-Pierre Smith said: "It is not just about policing the young people, it's also about protecting them. Often these youngsters bring information to the officers that they are not willing to give to the teachers."
Gareth Newman, head of the Institute for Security Studies, said it might be necessary to bring in officers as a short-term measure to enable schools to put in place measures for improving safety.
"But it's not an ideal long-term measure for school safety."