Cop to safeguard pupils

2015-08-03 09:36
The K9 unit’s Constable Bianca Cantello and her dog, Atilla, with Combined Action Team members at Kharina Secondary School ahead of the Community On Patrol (Cop) initiative set to begin next month.

The K9 unit’s Constable Bianca Cantello and her dog, Atilla, with Combined Action Team members at Kharina Secondary School ahead of the Community On Patrol (Cop) initiative set to begin next month. (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg - Parents, the Combined Action Team need your help with their new campaign that seeks to save pupils from drug dealers, gangsters and thieves.

While tackling hardened rapists, murderers and robbers, local crime-fighting heroes the Combined Action Team (CAT) will also set their sights on striking down criminal elements that plague school pupils in the northern suburbs.

With schools that fall under the Mountain Rise policing precinct being increasingly burdened with drugs, gangsterism, alcohol and truancy — the team have made an appeal to parents and the community to help in their fight against the problems.

Thus, The Community On Patrol (Cop) project,which was launched last week, seeks to merge the crime-fighting expertise of CAT with the knowledge of community leaders and residents to “free and restore the proper learning environments” of the city’s schools.

CAT promised community representatives at a Community Policing Forum (CPF) meeting in Mountain Rise last week that the team would create a safe 2km radius around every school in the northern suburbs.

Cop will roll out for two months, from September to the end of October, ahead of the matric exams and CAT promised to ensure that there will be no sales of alcohol and drugs around the schools, by taking down drug dealers and illegal shebeens in the schools’ vicinity.

Also, the team promised to conduct random searches and drug tests of pupils on a weekly basis, raid shops where pupils loiter when they truant and root out gangsterism, bullying and theft in the schools.

According to CAT operations head Nobin Karien, the team will also set up a their own helpline that will be manned 24 hours and seven days a week for parents and pupils to report problems at their schools.

Karien said they will not allow drug dealers to “hold schools at ransom”.

“We don’t care what lawyers these drug dealers have, we will take them down. This will be the best favour we can do for these children to make sure the matric results are better than before,” Karien said.

Kharina Secondary School principal Shaun Moodley said although the project “sounds positive”, there must be proper sustainability to make it work.

“Generally speaking, the project is intensive which is always good in terms of being the perfect deterrent,” Moodley said.

In addition to tackling these issues, CAT hopes to involve priests, pastors and other religious leaders to counsel pupils and their families, as well as assist addicted pupils in obtaining medication to break their drug dependance.

CAT chairperson and Mountain Rise station commander Brigadier Francis Bantham said the project aims to unite the community against crime and that children are the future, therefore by safeguarding them, the future of the country is safeguarded too. Bantham said the stock of street vendors and local tuck-shops will also be checked routinely and sweets and other items sold to school children will be analysed to make sure there are no narcotics in them.

Speaking to The Witness on Sunday, addiction recovery coach Jarrod Cronje said pupils are experimenting with drugs at their schools and any type of intervention for the youth will benefit the community immensely.

However, Cronje said there also needs to be preventative education around drug abuse and not just scare tactics for the project to work.

The Combined Action Team (CAT) will hold a meeting with principals, governing body members, parents, ward councillors, religious leaders and community leaders at the Arthur Blaxall School on Wednesday, August 12 at 13:00. The meeting will discuss the way forward before the project’s initiation in September.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  narcotics  |  education

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