Gangs threaten teachers

2013-03-11 00:00

GANGSTERISM at a school in Sweetwaters has become so bad that teachers are being threatened and pupils are living in fear.

This follows a stabbing late last year in which Xolani Ndlovu (18), a pupil at Siyanda High School in Sweetwaters, was killed in a turf war over a footpath.

Last week, a parent who asked not to be named, called The Witness to complain that the situation was getting out of hand and had left pupils and teachers fearing for their safety.

“There is no learning. The principal chases the gangs away, but they keep returning. Even the teachers don’t know how to deal with them because they are afraid,” she said.

She said some of the teachers had had the tyres of their cars slashed and one of the teachers had reportedly been threatened with being shot.

The principal of the school refused to comment to The Witness, directing queries to ward councillor Simon Sokhela.

Sokhela said the community was trying to stop gangsterism at the school before it got worse.

“There are also instances of violence in the school and we are trying to deal with it.”

Sokhela said other boys were stabbed and killed on Boxing Day last year, after Ndlovu’s death, but he was not sure if they were from the same school.

“We are consulting all the stakeholders involved. We’re meeting the community, the CPF [community policing forum] and the police to deal with this.”

He said that during a random search at the school, pupils were found with large knives, which frightened the teachers.

Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the department was unaware of what was going on at the school.

“We are disappointed and angered at the same time. Schools are located within communities. We cannot have such a situation where schools are run by gangsters. Communities must start to take responsibility for what is happening in their schools,” he said.

The department was doing everything it could to fight social ills.

“We made an unannounced visit with the police to a school in Swayimane and other areas and we searched for drugs and weapons,” Mahlambi said.

He urged parents to check their children’s school bags regularly. “When we search pupils and find drugs on them, you find that the parents learn that they are running drugs only when they have been arrested.”

Police spokesperson Colonel Vincent Mdunge said there had been trouble at the school in the past.

“Those who were involved in the murder of another pupil were arrested. Some have been suspended from the school and told to return with their parents. They have not returned,” he said.

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