MEC Schafer pleased that incidents of burglary and vandalism continue to reduce year on year
At the start of every school year, one of my main concerns is that teachers and learners will arrive at a school that has been badly vandalised or burgled during the December school holiday.
For this reason, during the December 2016/ January 2017 School holiday period, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) deployed additional security to schools that were identified as high risk.
We are therefore pleased to see that the number of incidents has dropped once again, this time to 17. The figures suggest that extra security and vigilant communities are helping to reduce the incidents of vandalism at our schools.
Incidents of burglary and vandalism reported, year on year:
Dec 2013 / Jan 2014
Dec 2014 / Jan 2015
Dec 2015 / Jan 2016
Dec 2016 / Jan 2017
This suggests that local communities are actively looking after schools, in addition to our security measures.
I was also informed by the ward councillor in Bonteheuwel, Angus McKenzie, that, owing to the community neighbourhood watch patrolling in and around schools in Bonteheuwel during the holiday period, no incident was reported from that area.
I have consistently highlighted that the safest schools are those where local citizens help to look after the properties and this seems to be evident in the case of Bonteheuwel. I am proud of the community and so grateful for their assistance during the school holidays.
I would like to thank all those who helped us also in other communities.
Unfortunately, despite measures taken by the WCED, as well as school communities, some of our schools still fell victim to vandalism and burglaries during the school holiday.
Of the 17 incidents reported, the Cape Winelands Education District reported the highest number of incidents in the Province, with 6 incidents of burglary and vandalism.
I am also pleased that of the 17 incidents reported, all except one were ‘minor’ incidents. An incident is classified as minor if the estimated cost of repairs is below R100 000 and the schools’ ability to function is not impacted in any way.
It is most unfortunate that Uitzig High School was once again vandalised. Security guards at the school were reportedly stoned and threatened with guns. As a result, water pipes and electrical cables were damaged and/or stolen, putting the school in a situation where it cannot function.
In most cases, perpetrators targeted ablution blocks stealing copper piping, taps, and cistern flush mechanisms.
In other cases, perpetrators stole copper wiring and pipes as well as electrical cables from schools.
Once again, feeding scheme kitchens were targeted with cooking apparatus and food being stolen.
The WCED is completing a cost analysis. So far, the cost for repairs for 14 of the 17 schools has come in at just under R250 000. While I am pleased that the incidents were mostly classified as “minor”, we could better spend these funds on improving the quality of education in schools. At the end of the day, vandalism represents theft from our learners.
As is evident in the case of Bonteheuwel, the co-operation of the community is essential to combat learner vandalism and to create a safe school environment that promotes teaching and learning.
I urge community members to be extra vigilant throughout the year and to immediately report any suspicious behavior or activities that occur within the vicinity of their schools to the SAPS or our Safe Schools Hotline – 0800 45 46 47.
I must acknowledge the continuous decline in reported incidents year on year, and for this I would like to thank Safe Schools, Metro Police, SAPS and members of the community for their sustained efforts in assisting us in putting an end to vandalism and burglary in our schools.
(Please note: The WCED does not identify the names of schools that have been affected by burglary and vandalism. In many cases, the damages caused by the perpetrators can result in a security threat or breach. Therefore, it is our policy to not announce the names).
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