Calm after gang unrest

2015-09-30 06:00
THE situation outside Petunia Secondary School in Heidedal on Friday. 
Sidwell Guduka

THE situation outside Petunia Secondary School in Heidedal on Friday. Photo: Sidwell Guduka

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THE situation is calm and back to normal following unrest allegedly linked to gang violence in schools in Bloemfontein last week.

On Friday, scores of parents had to go and collect their children from schools out of fear for gang attacks in Heidedal, following an incident where a young man was fatally assaulted by angry members of the community.

The deceased was believed to be part of a gang terrorising the community in Mangaung.

The learners returned to classes on Monday and there was a strong police presence at schools. No further interruptions were reported.

The Free State’s Department of Education and Department of Police, Roads and Transport, summoned principals from schools around Mangaung to a hastily arranged meeting at the Kagiso High School on Monday afternoon, where a lot of issues regarding gangsterism were addressed.

“I want to appeal to all the principals to take control of their schools. Do everything in your power to ensure safety of all learners. Please identify members of the gangs in your schools and profile them. But don’t mistake a mischievous child for a gangster,” said Stanley Malope, the Head of Department (HOD) for Education.

“Once you have profiled those gangsters, send their names to the district office. The department will deal with them,” he said.

Malope also urged the principals to arrange parent meetings in their schools to discuss events that happened last week.

“Inform the parents that the situation in schools is under control. If you don’t give confidence to the parents, they will remain in a panic. If you don’t explain these things to parents, they jump to conclusions. Sometimes the conclusions they make are based on wrong assumptions,” he warned.

Malope said his department had identified some of the hot spots in terms of schools where there are gangster members.

These hot spots include schools at Kopanong, Bainsvlei, Kaelang, Lereko, Petunia, Dr Blok, Heatherdale and Credence.

Meanwhile, Thabethe Mpembe, the provincial police commissioner, said six suspects had been arrested in connection with last week’s unrest.

Butana Komphela, MEC for Police, Roads and Transport, was also part of Monday’s meeting. There was also another meeting held by parents, the Department of Education, as well as the South African Police Services (SAPS) at Clive Solomon Stadium in Heidedal on Sunday, where a Joint Operations Command Centre was established that will deal with any eventualities. The centre will operate until end of November this year

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