Creston pupils get gassed

2011-11-02 00:00

AFTER an allegation surfaced that Creston College pupils were among teenagers pepper sprayed and victimised at Lake Eland during the weekend, Principal Phil Hawke has conducted his own investigation into the matter. He said that to date there has been no formal complaint lodged at Creston College by pupils or parents.

On Saturday night a group of young people in the campsite had been instructed by the security personnel to go to bed at 10:30 pm.

They were “creating a disturbance” and the following day’s event was the 45 km classic mountain bike race and athletes and competitors “deserved a decent night’s sleep”.

Security said at 12:00 am the same young people had returned to their fire and were again given a warning to return to their tents and “go to sleep”.

An hour later security had to once again intervene and sent the young people back to their tents.

This time they warned the group that if they had to intervene again, the youngsters would be “pepper sprayed.” The group, apparently consisting of teenagers and young adults, were still causing a disturbance at 1.30 am.

“The security personnel returned to deal with the same group and this time they used pepper spray to disperse them,” said Hawke.

He added, “I am not able to say whether Creston pupils were or were not involved in the incident.

“Security were not able to identify the young people other than to say they were teenagers.”

He said that Lake Eland is not a “Creston” event and anyone with information is encouraged to speak to the school about the incident.

Organisers at Lake Eland said that they received an isolated complaint via a third person.

“No parents or children have come to us to report such incidents,” said Chantel Elliott co-organiser.

She also confirmed that there is signage around Lake Eland to inform campers of the rules.

“There are signs all over saying lights out at 10 pm”

The campsite, while it is available to the public, is used mainly by athletes and their families who are serious about participating in the events.

The event organisers have an obligation to make sure that the campsite is safe and secure and free of noise at night. The organising committee enlists the support of SAPS and private security to keep order in the campsite.

Port Shepstone and Margate SAPS have confirmed that they have not received any report of such incidents. “The use of pepper spray is not illegal and generally security guards are also trained in its use,” said Lieutenant Colonel Zandra Wiid.

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