News24

Top school in drug scandal

2004-09-02 10:00

Port Elizabeth - Boys as young as 14 and 15 were recently caught with dagga in their possession at a top Port Elizabeth school.

Although parents believe that the marijuana are being sold on the Grey High School grounds by other pupils, principal Neil Crawford said the involvement of one grade 8 and several grade 9 pupils with dagga was still under investigation.

"A teacher heard about it, called in the children and they admitted that they had dagga in their possession. It was handed over to police who are now investigating the case," Crawford said.

He said it was very seldom that drugs were found in possession of this prominent school's pupils.

"There is nothing to hide, because our school has a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs. Drugs are readily available in the city. We have to unite against drug abuse among the youth."

He admitted that the boys were very young to be experimenting with dagga, but said this age group was known for being susceptible to peer pressure.

The school will complete an internal investigation, have a disciplinary hearing and will meet with the governing body before the boys are punished. He could not say whether the pupils would be expelled.

A dog named Sam

In another incident, the police dog unit was called in two weeks ago when drugs were found on pupils of another school in the city.

Inspector Dave Victor of the dog unit said he and his dog, Sam, could not keep up with all the schools that contact police on a daily basis to trace drugs on their school grounds.

"Three or four schools are on a waiting list because the other dog handler is on sick leave.

"Sam and I visited schools in the northern suburbs on Tuesday, but drugs can be found these days at rich and poor schools," Victor said.

He did not want elaborate on individual schools, but said he and his dog have found all types of drugs - especially marijuana, Ecstasy and cocaine - at high schools in the city. No primary school has called him in yet.

A school in Uitenhage also called in the police a few months ago after it came to light that an adult was selling dagga to pupils during breaks, before and after school.

Superintendent Rodney Visser of the police unit against organised crime who works with drug syndicates in particular said on Wednesday it was difficult to police individual cases at schools.

Couriers

"The schoolchildren are not likely to smoke dagga on the school grounds because it has a very strong smell, but they do bring drugs to school to use after hours. Sometimes it is simply to get attention, but pupils are often in possession of drugs at school to give it to their friends," Visser said.

He said the child who lived closest to a drug dealer would often bring drugs to his friends at school.

"Even if the pupils are supplying dagga without asking money for it, it remains drug dealing. Dagga is easily available and costs a mere R1 a gram. Anyone with R5 can buy a matchbox full of dagga," Visser said.

He said dagga was seen as an entry-level drug, which normally led to experimentation with other drugs.

Superintendent Johan van Greunen, police spokesperson, said young offenders were formally charged and then referred to the children's court for appropriate sentencing. This sentence normally included rehabilitation and community service.