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Gangs have Cape Town schools under siege‚ says MEC

31 July 2018 - 11:44 By Dave Chambers
Without proper education many of these children themselves then become involved in gang activities.
Without proper education many of these children themselves then become involved in gang activities.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

Cape Town schools are under siege from gangsters‚ says the education MEC.

Debbie Schäfer said on Tuesday she had asked schools to review their safety plans‚ “specifically with regards to effective access control measures and their contingency plans in emergency situations”.

The followed a flare-up of gang violence‚ which combined with a shortage of police was placing schools in “grave danger”.

“Criminals‚ and gangs in particular‚ are literally running riot holding our children and communities hostage‚” said Schäfer.

This was the result of “chronic under-resourcing” of the police in the Western Cape‚ both in terms of numbers as well as officers with the necessary experience.

Schäfer described the situation last week in Scottsdene‚ a suburb of Kraaifontein‚ in which “shots rang out continuously around our schools”.

She said: “One police van arrived with one police officer who was unable to enter the area until back-up arrived‚ which it never did.

“How are the police supposed to prevent‚ combat and investigate crime‚ as they are constitutionally mandated to do‚ when they are so severely under-resourced?”

The MEC renewed the call by Premier Helen Zille and other DA politicians for the deployment of troops to gang-torn suburbs of Cape Town — a call rejected by police minister Bheki Cele.

“While we are doing as much as we can as an education department to try and protect our schools‚ we simply do not have the legislative mandate or operational control over SAPS; the security manpower; or the requisite budget to contend with severe flare-ups in gang violence‚” she said. “Gang violence is depriving our children of their educational opportunities.

Without proper education many of these children themselves then become involved in gang activities and continue on this destructive cycle of violence and disruption.

“The only solution ... would be to increase the SAPS presence on the ground‚ and especially around our schools; bring back the specialised gang units; and deploy the army to gang-ridden areas on a temporary basis to stabilise the areas.

“Due to severe under-resourcing‚ the SAPS officers that we do have are putting their own lives at risk every day. Without enough support and back-up they become targets themselves.” 

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