It's a blackboard jungle out there as vandals target Western Cape schools
Two Western Cape schools were burgled or vandalised every day in 2018 — and the first half of 2019 has been worse.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said incidents were up by 24% so far this year, with 471 schools targeted between January and the end of June.
“Incidents are not confined to the Cape metro. A school in George, for example, has reported 10 incidents of burglary and vandalism this year. Other schools in Paarl, Langebaan and Laingsburg have reported eight incidents,” she said.
Even school security guards are at risk. “Of the 42 schools vandalised this past school holiday, 24 had been provided with holiday security,” said Schäfer. “In May this year, a security guard at Woodlands Secondary [in Mitchells Plain] was murdered while he was at work. Three other schools have also reported assaults on security guards this year.”
Schäfer said the education department was providing schools with security measures “such as fencing, burglar bars, security gates and alarms linked to armed response, within very tight budget constraints”.
She added: “The department also provides 24-hour security at selected schools. This is extremely costly and it’s not always possible to predict where or when an incident will occur.”
It was recommended that schools in the province forge partnerships with neighbourhood watches and armed response companies, she said.
“The community itself is, however, our best line of defence. While we are not asking people to physically stop a perpetrator from vandalising a school, we are simply asking that you make a call to your local police station to report it.”
Schäfer also said two pupils had been stabbed for refusing to join gangs, describing them as “heroes”.
Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the incidents occurred outside the school after classes had finished.
“The school has requested additional police patrols around the school. In fact, the police were patrolling around the school the day before the most recent stabbing occurred,” she said. “The school has employed someone to patrol the school during school hours and to monitor access control. The school also has security cameras.”