Cape Town -

Principal Hurshele Carolissen has a box full of knives and pellet guns confiscated from pupils trying to defend themselves while on their way to and from school.

Carolissen, principal of Cavalleria Primary in Scottsdene, Kraaifontein, and other principals in the area say gangsterism is taking its toll on their pupils.

At Cavalleria, pupils and teachers often hear shots and at times have to move to a quad in the middle of the school to ensure their safety.

“The children bring it to school, but none of the weapons have been used at the school. They need it to protect themselves after school.

“There are shootings almost on a daily basis in the area. We see more and more that our children are traumatised, which leads to shorter concentration spans in the class.”

He said a parent was recently shot near the school and last week a foreman’s life was threatened by a person who entered the school grounds.

“The school psychologist was here on Tuesday and had to do some counselling for a learner after the police raided their house… The psychologist is also debriefing a child whose father was killed.”

Carolissen said staff tried to make the school a pleasant environment, and many pupils were in the school’s vegetable garden on Tuesday.

Karel Cupido, principal of Scottsdene Secondary, has a file containing the names of gangs in the area and he records the names of pupils believed to be gang members.

He had tried to get pupils who had dropped out into a skills programme, and the school had started a skills unit for Grade 8 pupils.

Henry Alexander, principal of Bernadino Heights, said his pupils’ safety on their way to and from school was affected. “On the school grounds they are safe, but on their way home they are robbed.”

Paddy Attwell, spokesman for the Western Cape Education Department, said it was aware of the impact of gangsterism on pupils and the community in general in Kraaifontein.

“Our metropole east education district office has organised a series of meetings with all role-players, including schools, the police, councillors, the city and religious leaders.”

He said the district office was working with schools on gangsterism.

Police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said police were working “very closely” with teachers to alleviate the problem.

Sector managers “conduct stop and searches in the streets (and) regular patrols in schools and during intervals as well as after school. During these campaigns, community leaders, churches and councillors are involved”. - Cape Argus

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