Experts are concerned institutions of learning have become sites of criminal activity following recent violent incidents at schools across the province.
on Tuesday, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga and Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited Phomolong Secondary School in Tembisa after the brutal murder of school deputy principal Thembisile Ngendane last Friday.
Motshekga said she was deeply concerned about the high levels of violence in and around schools. Democratic Alliance shadow MEC for education Khume Ramulifho said an effective school safety strategy was needed toprotect pupils, teachers and school infrastructure.
“Police have failed to prioritise school safety for some time.
“Cases are opened and go nowhere. They only report these cases for compliance.
“There is no hope that these cases will result in convictions,” he said.
Ramulifho added that school patrollers were not trained, nor were they expected to face armed criminals.
“I remember the shooting at Lesiba Secondary School in Daveyton on 12 January. One pupil killed another and then killed himself.
“In August last year, a pupil stabbed another pupil at Pholosho Secondary School in Alexandra, then the principal ofLawley was gunned down. Also, in Orange Farm, a principal was gunned down last year,” he said.
Ramulifho said over and above the killings, theft and vandalism were costing the department a vast amount of money. South African Democratic Teachers Union general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said schools were turning into war zones.
“Schools are no longer safe havens in terms of their standing in society and lawlessness in our country is being celebrated rather than punished,” he said.
“Every protest becomes violent. This suggests that the community regards violence as a way of getting there, even if it means disregarding laws regulating gatherings and demonstrations.”
Maluleke said crime had increased and schools were soft targets for gangsters and criminals.
“Schools are seen as markets for drug lords,” he added. Prof Jaco Barkhuizen, head of the department of criminal justice at the University of Limpopo, said the problem was that there was violence everywhere in South Africa.
“It’s not normal to find violence in schools. There have been a lot of cases where pupils assault pupils or teachers, or pupils stab other pupils,” he said.
Barkhuizen said education should not be taking place in physically dangerous environments.
“There’s a bigger problem in South Africa because violence is learned behaviour and what happens in schools is a reflection of what happens in our society.”
Gauteng department of education spokesperson Steve Mabona said no other violent crimes had been reported recently.
The police would not comment on whether violent incidents in and around schools had increased because the incidents were captured by crime codes and not locations.