Cops pounce on pupils in raid

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IOL ST school raid112 THE STAR Police searched Westbury Secondary School on Friday morning, finding contraband on pupils. Picture: Chris Collingridge

Johannesburg - In one classroom they found a hubbly bubbly pipe. Girls were found in possession of a bankie of dagga, and others had tobacco on them.

But as dozens of police officers stormed Westbury Secondary School, western Joburg, on Friday morning, searching pupils and sending sniffer dogs through classrooms, some pupils stood around in clumps, giggling at the sight of illicit substances being recovered from their peers.

The early morning raid by police and the Gauteng Department of Education was part of the department’s ongoing crackdowns on school gangs.

As police combed the classrooms and conducted body searches, some pupils were evidently not impressed, others quivered and looked as though they were about to burst into tears.

A couple of older boys joked, blaming each other for the drugs found in their classroom.

The three girls found with dagga would also not take responsibility.

“If you bring it to school, you’re planning on smoking it at school, am I right?” asked Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. “No, I don’t smoke at school,” each girl replied.

“You’re still young, please, I don’t want you to sleep in prison,” Lesufi told one class where the hubbly bubbly was found.

But Lesufi’s biggest headache was a gang of girls terrorising boys at Vezukhono Secondary School in Daveyton, Ekurhuleni.

Known only as Girls, “they hijack so-called good-looking young guys and attempt to rape them”, said Lesufi. “Obviously they’re under the influence of something.”

Details on this were vague, but he said the department was investigating. That school was raided last month too.

“When I took office 103 days ago, one of the things I prioritised was the crushing of gangs in our schools,” said Lesufi.

In a report based on police investigations, the department detailed which gangs were operating in which schools.

The names of these gangs that have been identified in several police raids since May included Marikana, Crazy Criminal Boys and Girls, Hell Kids and Fast Guns.

“Gangs with the name Marikana cut across all our schools (that were raided),” Lesufi said.

“All of us know the history of Marikana and what Marikana represents in this country,” he said.

He said if he had the budget, he would reluctantly place security at all schools in Gauteng.

“But do you want to militarise our schools, to turn our schools into a semi-barracks? I’m not a fan of that,” Lesufi said.

The GDE said they sent pupils caught with contraband on prison tours and offered them counselling.

Those caught with illicit substances this morning were released, but they had to apologise to the headmaster and tell police where they got the dagga from.

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