Pupil’s firearm sets off alarms at school

2011-08-04 00:00

NOTHING was left to chance at Phoenix Technical School on Tuesday when a distress call was received by private security company Reaction Unit South Africa (RUSA) about a pupil in possession of a firearm.

A helicopter was dispatched to the school and armed guards stormed the school in anticipation of a hostage scenario — but fortunately the situation was under control.

RUSA head Prem Balram said that the RUSA Control Centre in Phoenix received a call from a teacher at the school about the gun.

“The caller further informed the controller that the teacher, Mr D. Naidoo, was locked in a classroom with a student who he believed could use the weapon to escape,” said Balram.

Several reaction officers converged on the school while the RUSA helicopter provided air support, keeping a constant watch over the classroom.

“Reaction officers then entered the classroom and found Naidoo and a student inside.

“Upon searching the student’s bag, a 9 mm pistol and a live round were found.”

The firearm was unlicensed and, according to Balram, the primer on the 9 mm round was dented in three spots, which indicates that some one had tried to fire the pistol previously.

The pupil said the gun belonged to a friend who had asked him to keep it.

Naidoo apparently confronted the pupil when he noticed him carrying an unusually large amount of money, and upon looking in his bag he noticed a metal object resembling a firearm.

He then kept the boy in the class while awaiting reaction officers.

Balram said the teacher’s actions had possibly saved the life of a pupil or the suspect’s intended victim.

The boy was detained at Phoenix police station and faces charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.

Deputy principal Harjiwan Dayaram described the pupil as diligent and an achiever and said teachers were shocked at the incident.

“Staff would have least expected this from him,” he said, adding that security has since been improved.

“There is only so much we can do to keep our staff and students safe since the law doesn’t allow us to search students physically.

“We commend RUSA and the teacher involved for their swift reaction,” he said.

Department of Education spokesperson Mbali Thusi said the student will face a disciplinary tribunal next week.

“Schools are weapon free/drug free zones and we condemn in the strong­est possible terms the bringing in of weapons/drugs to schools.”

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