Hundreds of residents, teachers and pupils marched to the Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court on Thursday to hand over a memorandum demanding measures to make their schools safer.
The protest, organised by the Khayelitsha Education Forum (KEF), called for the Western Cape Department of Education to install metal detectors at all schools and hire security guards 365 days a year.
The KEF also called on the department to start a walking bus in which pupils, under the supervision of an adult, walk in groups to and from school. The protesters also called for proper fencing.
The memo also calls for an "end to gangsterism and drug abuse at schools" as well as an investigation into all reported cases of gangsterism and drugs.
KEF chairperson Nowawethu Mosana said: "We have been asking the department to deploy guards at all the schools in Khayelitsha, but we have not yet received the guards."
Mosana added teachers felt vulnerable when they taught pupils as there was no one to guard their schools.
'Courts do not convict'
"Criminals disrupt learning and tuition and rob teachers of their belongings at gunpoint in broad daylight, leaving them traumatised," she said.
Mosana claimed armed "thugs" had shot three teachers at several schools last year and four this year.
The KEF held the protest on the same day as the State of the Nation Address to draw the government's attention to the school safety crisis.
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Mosana said: "All the ministers are here in Cape Town today, so we hope the protest will attract their attention."
She added residents were angry at the courts for letting off "school robbers" and giving them bail.
"The residents provide the police with information regarding school burglaries and robberies in addition to CCTV footage received from schools and they arrest the thugs," said Mosana. "But the courts don't convict them."
The schools do not get updates from the police on the cases they opened against thugs, she added.
Crime a pattern of behaviour
Thokozani Ngcayiyana, the secretary of the Khayelitsha School Governing Body Forum, said: "The department is giving schools laptops and tablets but who is going to secure them?
"The government said it will deploy law enforcement to our schools, but they are confined to Table View and white schools."
The principal of Lwandle Primary, Stanley Makhubela, said he had tried to close the holes in his school fence, but criminals still entered his school.
"Our schools are burgled, and teachers are robbed of their cellphones and laptops at gunpoint at least four times a week because we don't have guards at all," he added.
The principal of Ekukhanyile Primary School, Ayanda Mentile, said two criminals had robbed the school secretary and other staff members at gunpoint on January 30 this year.
"We report robberies to the police, but they don't make arrests. We just receive messages saying the cases have been closed but no explanation as to why," he added.
Khayelitsha SANCO member Nozuko Mding, said residents should stop buying stolen school property.
"The government must deploy soldiers to all schools in Khayelitsha because the criminals are too dangerous for us," she added.
Court manager Velile Yayi received the memo.
"I can assure the KEF that they can come to us with cases that are not progressing, and we will give them feedback," he said.
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Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Kerry Mauchline said the department had allocated extra funding to schools in the area for security.
"This included an amount of R1m for schools to install alarms, security gate motors, cameras and the like.
"Schools had to present a proposal in order to receive the funds. Almost all the proposals arrived three months late," she said.
"Preventing learners from attending school is never an acceptable way to resolve these challenges, and we condemn this in the strongest of terms."