The SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) is "deeply concerned" about a spate of robberies at Cape Town schools over the past month, as the Western Cape education department offers a R10 000 reward for information that will lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.
"Schools are supposed to be a place of safety," said Sadtu Western Cape secretary Jonovan Rustin.
Five schools have been hit since May 16, starting with Ummangaliso Primary School in Site B, Khayelitsha.
On May 24, Inthshayelelo Primary School in Lingelethu West was burgled and days later on May 29, robbers struck at Lwandle Primary School, also in Lingelethu West.
On May 30, Vukukhanye Primary School in Gugulethu was robbed and on Monday morning, June 18, three teachers from ACJ Phakade Primary School in Nomzamo, Strand, were hijacked at gunpoint as they arrived at school.
Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said five armed men entered the school premises via the vehicle entrance and held the three teachers at gunpoint. The robbers stole three vehicles.
CCTV footage shows them slipstreaming into the gate behind the teachers' cars.
"Thankfully, no one was physically hurt during the incident, however, the educators involved, as well as those who witnessed the incident, are deeply traumatised. Counselling is being provided," said Schäfer.
Police probing the robberies
In the meantime, Police Minister Bheki Cele assured the department that police were investigating the robberies, and the Safe Schools Directorate had deployed security to the school, she said.
But Sadtu said that at the moment, teachers feel as though they are "sitting ducks", waiting to become the next targets.
He called for visible policing outside schools, particularly during winter mornings, when pupils and teachers arrive in the dark.
Rustin said education department officials were well protected in their own offices, but that schools only have a gate which had to be opened to let pupils and teachers in.
He said none of the victims would be allowed to speak to the media, because it would be against department policy.
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Paul Colditz, CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools, said they were worried that schools were being targeted.
"Children may be affected and we are always very concerned about it," he said.
Colditz added that schools were soft targets because they could not afford property security, and he echoed the call to make schools safer.
In the meantime, anybody with information on the robberies can send a tip-off to the toll-free number 0800 454 647.
The R10 000 reward is for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the robbers.
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