R1m damage to schools

2016-04-12 06:00

At the start of every new school term, the Safe Schools Directorate provides a report of incidents of burglary and vandalism that took place at schools across the province during the school holiday period. The cost of the damages caused during the April school period is still being determined, but estimates are already more than R1m, says Western Cape minister of education, Debbie Schäfer.

“I am angered to hear that one of our special needs schools became the target of armed perpetrators who proceeded to remove 50m of fencing from the school,” says Schäfer.

It is reported that the foreman and two security guards on site called the police, but unfortunately they did not arrive in time to take action, she says.

“The cost to repair the fence is more than R600 000. It is simply not possible to sustain this kind of expenditure on repairing stolen fencing.”

During the April school holiday period, the department’s Safe Schools directorate increased security at identified high risk schools and deployed additional security to these schools.

However, despite increased security measures, each school holiday a number of schools fall victim to incidents of burglary and vandalism. Over the April holiday period alone, schools reported a total of 16 incidents of burglary and vandalism. The incidents reported included theft of copper pipes, electrical cabling, computer equipment, an entire CCTV monitoring system, and in a separate case four CCTV cameras were stolen.

Damage to classrooms and school halls included theft of and damage to light fittings, broken windows and stolen sporting equipment. A feeding kitchen was yet again targeted, with food and cooking utensils being stolen.

“In two separate incidents, perpetrators broke into a woodwork classroom stealing more than R100 000 of power tools and equipment. Perpetrators also targeted a store room stealing power tools as well as gardening and maintenance equipment. This deals a blow to our skills development, which provides learners with life opportunities. We should be using these funds to build new schools, improve existing schools and generally improve opportunities for children,” she says.

The WCED spends about R10m a year on emergency repairs as a result of damage from major incidents of vandalism.

“For instance, R10m could employ an additional 33 educators in our schools a year, ensure that an additional 9 000 learners attend no-fee schools, or provide over 60 000 additional textbooks. At the end of the day, vandalism represents theft from our pupils.”

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