Cape Town -
Armed police are to be deployed at schools located in the middle of a gang turf war between the Hard Livings and Americans in Manenberg from Monday after an urgent meeting between the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and the SAPS on Sunday.
The department was compelled to increase security at the schools after the Western Cape High Court ordered it to deploy adequate safety at the five schools: Edendale Primary, Red River Primary, Sonderend Primary, Rio Grande Primary and Silverstream Secondary, where a 17-year-old former pupil was stabbed in the back this month.
The schools approached the court, saying the Bambanani security deployed to the school was “completely unsuited to providing proper security in a war zone”.
The WCED, which is adamant that it should not assume the job of the police, is to review the court order with its legal team on Monday.
At the meeting with SAPS on Sunday, a two-week plan was devised aimed at safety at the schools.
In a statement on Monday, Education MEC Donald Grant’s spokeswoman, Bronagh Casey, said there was also a long-term plan to “contain the violence” in Manenberg.
Police spokesman Tembinkosi Kinana said they could not disclose the details of the safety plan.
Casey said: “We are very disappointed and concerned at how the process was dealt with from a legal perspective. Irrespective of the merits of this case, from a legal point of view the order was served on the department without the WCED being given adequate notice or opportunity to consult our legal team.”
She said given the plan that police had outlined, they did not think it was “reasonable, nor in the best interest of learners to close down any schools in the area”.
She said police had mentioned in the meeting that it was their opinion that pupils were safer at school than out of school.
The court application was lodged on Friday by the Manenberg Teachers’ Steering Committee and teachers and principals from the five schools, against the WCED, its head, Penny Vinjevold, and Education MEC Donald Grant.
In an affidavit that formed part of their application, acting principal of Red River Primary School, Eugene Peters, said the conflict had made it unsafe not only in the areas around the schools but also at the schools. Last week, a gunfight had taken place on the premises of Red River Primary School.
According to a supplementary affidavit by Peters, the only security provided to each of the affected schools was one or two unarmed Bambanani security officers.
These officers, provided by Community Safety, were mostly women from the surrounding community who did not carry weapons. Nor had they, to Peters’ knowledge, undergone any specialised training.
“It is clear that the Bambanani security officers are completely unsuited to providing proper security in a war zone.
“At best they provide support of an administrative nature (asking visitors to sign in and the like) at school gates (where these exist),” he said.
Casey said their lawyers would now study the interim order and advise them on the best course of action.