Drugs, gangs bust

2018-02-13 06:00

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A police operation at Ocean View Secondary School took place on Wednesday, in an attempt to crack down on drugs and gangsterism at the school.

The operation was requested by the school following “numerous concerns from educators regarding Grade 10 learners who are associating with alleged gangs in the area”, says Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for Western Cape education minister Debbie Schafer.

“The search was thus targeted at the Grade 10 classes,” she says.

“A bottle of wine, a few lighters, a toy gun and a few cellphones were found and confiscated. The learners who were caught in possession of these items will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s disciplinary procedures.”

Ocean View police spokesperson, Sergeant Leon Fortuin, confirmed the police operation at the school.

“The operation resulted because of a meeting held last week between the principal of the school and the station commander of Ocean View police, where concerns were raised regarding drug use and drug trafficking on the school premises,” he says.

According to the constitution, all schools are declared safe zones and the possession of drugs and weapons is prohibited. This gives the police permission to search school premises under the direction of the school principal, he explains.

“The results of the search were very positive, and community members who saw the search being carried out thanked the members for doing so.”

After the school was searched, the officers carried out search operations in Ocean View, he says.

“These searches will definitely be carried out at random times in the future to make drug traffickers aware that a school is a place of learning, not for the use of narcotics,” Fortuin says.

“There are allegations of drug merchants having recruited learners from the school to sell drugs, and we will be investigating this. Drug merchants have also been selling drugs and monitoring the progress of drug sales from the school fence before school starts, during interval and after school. We will be monitoring the school to make sure this doesn’t happen. When teachers intervene, the drug merchants throw stones at the teachers. The teachers’ safety is also of concern to us, therefore we are not taking this lightly.”

Drug abuse is a “serious concern for the school”, Shelver says.

“In 2017 two learners were formally expelled from the school for possession (and peddling) of drugs. 

“The one learner admitted that he was selling drugs for a local gangster and drug dealer,” Shelver 
explains.

“This concern is heightened at break times when local gangsters or drug dealers attempt to peddle their drugs through the school fence.”

This led to an incident last year where two teachers were threatened with guns, says Shelver.

As a result, the school has implemented an “invisible barrier” of 2m between the fence and playground, she explains.

“This area is out of bounds – learners may not be in close proximity to the fence.

“The number of staff on playground duty during break times has been extended to increase the ground covered and vigilance, and the school has a good working relationship with Ocean View police,” she says.

The Safe Schools fieldworkers have also conducted drug-related workshops and awareness programmes, and provide the school with drug testing kits and support, Shelever 
explains.

The department also has a number of curriculum programmes that focus on drug education, she says.

“Safe and secure learning environments are essential if we are to ensure that quality education is delivered. It is imperative that our schools remain drug free.

“It is therefore vital that parents, community members and learners are aware of the programmes and support mechanisms on offer to deal with such a scourge,” Shelver says.

“As primary caregivers, parents play the most important role in identifying drug use by their children. Most drug use takes place at home or within the community.

“But the sad reality is that some learners do come to school in possession of or under the influence of illegal drugs.”

It’s not uncommon for the education department to call on the police or City of Cape Town Law Enforcement to conduct random search and seizure operations at schools as a security measure and to deter learners from bringing weapons and narcotics onto school premises, Shelver 
explains.

“We are doing our best to create awareness around the dangers of drug use and abuse.

“But this problem is symptomatic of the society in which we live. We need parents to also play their role in limiting this abuse,” she says.

“There is support available for learners and parents and I encourage them to use the all available resources so that together we can try to combat the scourge of drug abuse that is plaguing our communities.”

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