Vandalism a ‘concern’

2018-07-26 06:00

Incidents of burglary and vandalism during winter school holidays are a cause for concern for Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape MEC for Education.

“At the start of every school term, one of my main concerns is that teachers and learners will arrive at a school that has been badly vandalised or burgled during the winter school holidays. Unfortunately this was the case when schools opened last week,” she said.

While many schools were hubs of activity over the holiday period, there were schools that remained vacant and were therefore targeted by vandals.

Schäfer added that communities need to be vigilant regarding activities around schools and report any suspicious behaviour to the police as soon as possible.

Assistance in identifying or reporting perpetrators who often are from within the community is also needed.

Crime is fluid and crime prevention is not always within the City’s control. Despite measures taken by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), as well as school communities, some of the schools still fell victim to vandalism and burglaries during the school holiday.

Twenty-seven schools reported incidents of burglary and vandalism during the winter holiday period. This is the same as the figure from last year at the same time.

One case was reported as major while the remaining 26 cases were classified as minor.

“While we note that one case was classified as major, another ‘minor’ case is costing the department over R60 000 to repair and replace what was damaged or stolen. This is a large amount of money that could be better spent on improving education opportunities for the learners at the school,” said Schäfer.

Three schools in the Metro East District reported incidents.

Perpetrators broke into one of the schools at around 8:00, an hour after the night shift security had left the school.

The perpetrators gained access by breaking two burglar prevention doors with an axe.

Stolen items included two full computers, two printers and scanners, a photocopy machine, a microwave, a two burner stove, an electric kettle, a fax machine, four electric heaters, and two cell phones.

At another Metro East School, perpetrators gained access to the administration block and stole ICT equipment.

In other cases, perpetrators stole CCTV cameras and kitchen equipment.

Perpetrators also targeted ablution blocks and stole basins, flush mechanisms, copper wiring and pipes from schools.

“I urge community members to be extra vigilant during the day and report any suspicious behaviour or activities that occur within the vicinity of their schools. I would also like to thank the many communities who have taken this seriously and helped us to protect our schools,” said Schäfer.

She pointed out that, a school is a community asset and everyone should help protect schools as it is fundamental the children’s future.

“We shall be following these cases and in the event that perpetrators are arrested and found guilty, we shall make an input,” she said.

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