Gang robs pupils at Margate school

2011-06-14 00:00

TEN pupils at Margate Middle School claim they were attacked by a gang of brazen criminals in the past three weeks.

They say they were assaulted and robbed of their belongings while on their way to school or when going back home. It is alleged that the attacks took place in five separate incidents.

The pupils are aged between 13 and 16. Two of the 10 pupils are girls.

The latest case was reported by a school teacher yesterday. The pupils were robbed of their cellphones, pocket money and other valuables.

An official case has not been opened yet.

Last week pupils reported four of the incidents to a teacher at the school, Endhran Rangasamy.

The pupils said they were afraid to tell anyone, but when they heard of similar incidents happening to friends they decided to speak to a teacher.

Rangasamy said the staff are very worried about the recent attacks. He spoke on behalf of the principal, Siva Moodley.

“I went to Margate police station last Thursday. I was told that a policeman will come to the school to take statements from the pupils,” he said.

Police officers arrived at the school yesterday morning but did not conduct any interviews as the pupils were writing exams at the time.

Rangasamy said the pupils told of how the gang waited near the library or near the freeway for them to approach.

The gang members threatened them with knives and robbed them.

“We are doing our utmost best to prevent other incidents such as these from occurring.

“They notified the police as soon as we were made aware of the robberies,” said Rangasamy.

He said teachers spoke to pupils, telling them to be more vigilant while walking to school.

He said he believes the police could have treated the matter with greater urgency as minors were involved.

“I would like the police to patrol the area in the mornings and afternoons. The last thing we need is a pupil being murdered over pocket money,” said Rangasamy.

Rangasamy said the children do not know how to defend themselves against criminals, which makes them soft targets. “We as teachers are doing our best to create a safer learning environment for our pupils.”

A parent, who asked to remain unnamed, said she was concerned for the safety of her child.

“We have heard of horrible stories that had happened to innocent children,” said the parent.

“The robbers threaten them with knives and take their belongings. I heard of one child who was assaulted very badly,” she said.

The parent said police assistance is badly needed at the school. “They are trained to protect people,” she said.

“I wish the police could watch the children as they enter and leave school. I am very worried. They need their education and should not be afraid to go to school.”

Captain Gerald Mkefa, a spokesperson for SA Police Force Margate Cluster, said a sensitive issue such as this will be dealt with immediately.

“If we receive complaints from many people in a certain area, we will deal with the matter,” he said.

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