W Cape pupils to be searched

2009-09-15 08:00

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Cape Town – More than 100 schools in the Western Cape will soon be equipped with hand-held metal detectors in an effort to make schools weapon-free.

The project was launched on Monday at St Andrew's Secondary School in Elsies River, where a stabbing incident made the news last month.

"It's a pity that we have to make this kind of investment, but pupils and teachers are entitled to a safe learning environment," said Western Cape education MEC Donald Grant.

There had been 60 stabbing incidents at Western Cape schools between January and July this year.

High levels of violence

The 109 schools - which are part of the project due to their high levels of violence - will each receive two hand-held metal detection devices, worth about R1 000 each.

Kevin Malan, a teacher who also acts as a security officer, explained that security guards will be searching pupils with the metal detectors each morning. Further random checks may then be carried out during the day.

When the metal detector's alarm goes off, the pupil will be asked to declare the item that set off the alarm, said Grant.

The principal or security officer will be informed. The principal or a delegate of the principal can then search the pupil in a private room. The searcher and the pupil being searched must be of the same gender.

Confiscated

According to provisional guidelines for the use of these metal detectors, a dangerous object or drugs which are confiscated will then be handed over to the police. The principal will receive a receipt for any such items.

Western Cape education department spokesperson, Bronagh Casey, said even if the object is not illegal, it can still be confiscated by the school.

The school will decide, according to its code of conduct, whether the object will be returned to the pupil.

According to the provisional guidelines, disciplinary steps may be taken against a pupil who is found in possession of a dangerous object.

'Protect our schools'

Brian Schreuder, acting head of the Western Cape education department, said rooting out violence in schools is not only the department's responsibility.

"Schools are a microcosm of society at large. There's violence in schools because there is also violence outside schools.

"I hope we're moving towards a situation where communities can protect our schools so that pupils, teachers and schools will no longer be plagued by violence," he said.

Seven schools will receive their metal detectors on Monday, while the rest will have their devices within a month.

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