MEC threatens pupils with police action

14 February 2012 - 02:33 By Sapa and Katharine Child

Pupils who arrive late for school in Soweto today will be taken to a police station and their parents will be called to fetch them, the Gauteng education department warned.

Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

"It's time for things to change," Gauteng education MEC Barbara Creecy said.

About 700 pupils and several teachers arrived late for classes at Soweto's Lavela Secondary School yesterday, when Creecy made a surprise visit. They arrived between 30 minutes and an hour after the 7.50am bell.

"From tomorrow [Tuesday], anyone arriving late will be taken to the Jabulani police station . We will then call your parents to come and collect you," Creecy said.

"We have been watching you for a week. Whether the sun shines or it rains, you are late. You arrive here long after the bell has rung," she said.

Creecy said she would return to the school for spot checks.

But a researcher for the Community Law Centre at the University of Western Cape, Lorenzo Wakefield, said that, legally, "you cannot just round up children and take them to the police station unless you are going to charge them with something or if they are in need of care and protection.

"You cannot use police intimidation as a tactic."

Spokesman for Creecy Charles Phahlane said the police would be involved only in extreme cases of lateness.

"The children are not being arrested but are being taken to the police station."

Social workers might be asked to get involved at the police station, for example if children were late because they came from a child-headed household, he said.