Parliament wants police action after spike in school vandalism cases

File photo - Politicians are concerned about vandalism during the lockdown. (Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani/GroundUp)
File photo - Politicians are concerned about vandalism during the lockdown. (Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani/GroundUp)

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and the country's political parties have called on the police to protect school buildings from vandals while the country is under lockdown.

Chairperson of the committee Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba in a statement was concerned over the number of schools that have been vandalised during the national lockdown period.

"Our country is going through a crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Resources have already been redirected to address the challenges caused by the pandemic, including financial resources. Now schools will have to be repaired as criminal elements in our communities saw an opportunity to destroy much-needed resources that our learners will need once the lockdown is lifted," Mbinqo-Gigaba said.

In total, 183 schools across the country have been targeted by vandals, arsonists and burglars since all schools were closed on March 18.  

"Schools ensure that our children receive an education to enable them to make a better future. They, therefore, benefit the whole community," Mbinqo-Gigaba said.

"We further call on law enforcement agencies to deal decisively with such criminals should they be apprehended."

'Spike of malicious vandalism'

DA MP Désirée van der Walt in a statement said she wrote to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to propose measures her department should take to "mitigate the spike of malicious vandalism to school property by criminals during the Covid-19 lockdown period".

She proposes the following interventions:

  • That there are caretakers at schools at all times during the lockdown to deter any possible acts of vandalism and, in cases where some contracts have come to an end, extensions or replacements are prioritised;
  • The department works closely with the South African Police Service to ensure police visibility and patrolling in high-risk areas; as well as  
  • The department should look at onboarding community police forums and neighborhood watches in protecting schools immediately after the lockdown, to ensure maximum visibility of security around our schools at all times.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said in a statement that he asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow neighbourhood and farm watches to function as usual to help the police, citing a general rise in crime, but also the looting of schools, which he described as a "great cause for concern".

"Much of the police force's energy and time is spent on enforcing the measures that were implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Thus, the police force needs all the help it can get and the FF Plus has asked President Ramaphosa to urgently address the matter," he said.

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