Safety is still a concern

2020-02-04 06:00
School principal Natasha Pather with Member of Parliament Ricardo Mackenzie in the repaired toilet block.

School principal Natasha Pather with Member of Parliament Ricardo Mackenzie in the repaired toilet block.

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Damages estimated at more than R150 000 have now been repaired at Alpine Primary School following extensive vandalism to the boys toilets last year.

Parents took to the streets and social media to voice their concerns and outrage when the school opened with the toilets still damaged.

Bronagh Hammond, Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson, says: “At the end of last year, three classrooms and the toilet facilities were badly vandalised. This affected the boys toilet facilities only and the girls facilities were operational.”

She adds: “The ceilings, water pipes, urinals and toilets were all vandalised. Stationery, copy paper and an air conditioner were also stolen.”

The department had initially appointed a contractor to fix the facilities before school had opened.

“A contractor was appointed, but unfortunately did not carry out the required work,” says Hammond.

A second contractor was then appointed and repairs have since been completed.

The school had arranged for the parent committee to monitor access to the toilets, having a shared facility with male and female learners taking turns. As this was not ideal, Hammond says additional chemical toilets were hired for the school.

“The school has an alarm system and security guards.”

The WCED district director is currently engaging with the parents at the school. There are plans to assist with their fencing needs which is currently in process,” says Hammond.

In February last year, the school community were up in arms following an incident where a group of boys entered the school grounds, (“Fencing concerns mount”, People’s Post, 19 February).

At the time, parents and staff called an emergency safety meeting to address their concerns following the incident on Friday 8 February 2019.

It is alleged that three boys assumed to be affiliated to a gang entered the school through a broken gate and one was heard saying he felt like “raping a teacher”.

“[The officers] spoke to the teacher. The boys walked past her class and she heard one say ‘yor, ek smaak ’n juf rape’, that is when she came out of her class and asked them what they are saying, not knowing that they do not belong at the school,” said Capt Ian Williams, police spokesperson at the time.

At the time of the meeting, there was very little access control as large parts of the fence were either in bad condition or missing entirely. There were also sections that were unstable or had holes in them. Following the meeting, the WCED prioritised the securing of the school.

“Alpine primary will receive emergency security. The school was also placed on the infrastructure priority list for new fencing in the 2019/20 financial year.

“Tackling the scourge of burglary and vandalism at Western Cape schools is not a fight that the WCED can tackle alone. Everyone should help protect schools as it is fundamental to the future of our children,” said department spokesperson Millicent Merton at the time.

“Our Safe Schools directorate is very active in mobilising communities to look after schools, in conjunction with the police and community-based organisations. The cooperation of the community and the police is essential in order to combat vandalism and to create a safe school environment that promotes teaching and learning.”

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