Police conduct raid for drugs, weapons at Swayimane school

2013-02-26 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Education Department and police confiscated 45 cellphones and two knives after an unannounced raid at Swayimane High School in Wartburg yesterday.

The delegation, led by uMshwathi mayor Marshal Gwala, surprised pupils when they arrived at the school and searched bags.

Jennifer Baiju, uMgungundlovu district manager for the department, said it was against the school’s code of conduct for pupils to bring cellphones to schools as it results in their becoming victims of crime.

She said the safety and security of pupils was their primary concern and warned that parents should monitor their children’s cellphone usage.

She said cellphones and other electronic devices should be left at home. “They are a distraction and pose a safety hazard.”

She said pupils walking home from school were approached by criminals who wanted to steal these items and in some cases, pupils have been assaulted.

Gwala warned pupils against bringing weapons to school as they put their own lives in danger.

“We can’t be here every day to check on what you bring to school. It must be your responsibility not to bring them to school, so we can have a safe school,” he said.

South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi said cellphones were a distraction in the classroom and added that the department should have telephone lines in all the schools.

He welcomed the initiative of searching for weapons as he said this would show the department the conditions they work in.

Reginald Chiliza, chairperson of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, said cellphones should be kept by parents when pupils go to school and that parents should make sure they know what is in their children’s school bags.

Colonel Henry Budhram, from the police, said he was disappointed that they had found knives at the school, but was happy that they did not find any drugs.

“We are here to warn you about these things. Don’t bring weapons and cellphones to school,” Budhram warned pupils.

Education Department spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said: “All schools have a code of conduct and they include the use of cellphones. This programme targets the notorious schools where there is a high level of violence and drug abuse.

Dr Johan Burger, from the Institute for Security Studies, said parents need to monitor cellphones if they are not banned from school. “Cellphones can be marked and placed in the principal’s office and can be used for emergencies and after school hours. Controlling the access to the cellphones is the key,” said Burger.

The knives will not be returned to the pupils, who were warned not to have weapons at school.

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