Cape Town - Manenberg police’s school safety programme has brought gang violence around five schools under control, judging by a dramatic reduction in shootings, murders and attempted murders, says Manenberg station commissioner Brigadier Andre van Dyk.
The programme, in partnership with metro police and law enforcement, has been extended until March 28, the end of term. Van Dyk was speaking at a joint press conference with the Western Cape Department of Education on Monday.
On February 21, after a flare-up of violence and shootings, representatives of the five schools - Silverstream Secondary, Sonderend Primary, Edendale Primary, Red River Primary and Rio Grande Primary - asked the Western Cape High Court for an order to force the department to deploy permanent security guards to the campuses.
The court issued an interim order compelling the department to provide security, but days later it was retracted after the department argued policing was not its responsibility.
Meanwhile, the police agreed to deploy extra personnel to patrol the area around the schools, and a two-week “school-safety” programme started on February 23.
“Since February 27 there have been no murders or attempted murders in the area around the schools,” said Van Dyk on Monday. “There have been no shootings during school hours. In February, there were 430 drug-related arrests and 23 for the illegal possession of a firearm. These are significant successes.”
John Lyners, deputy director-general in the department, commended the SAPS, metro police and law enforcement. A meeting between the groups in the school holidays will discuss the way forward. Van Dyk admits that the programme demands a lot of resources and is unsustainable.
The Cape Argus visited Silverstream Secondary School yesterday, soon after police had arrested a 15-year-old boy for possession of ammunition. Principal Anthony Pietersen said the police patrols had improved security around the school.
“But the patrols are somewhat sporadic. For the most part it is up to the teachers to monitor activity and enforce discipline at the school.”
He conceded that staff had difficulty getting the school routine back to normal, after the disruptive gang violence and resulting high rates of absenteeism. Last week a fight at Silverstream, allegedly between pupils and parents, led to teachers refusing to return to class.