Cape Town -
He was deregistered from Silverstream Secondary School in Manenberg last year and was supposed to have left, but on Friday the 17-year-old was stabbed in the school grounds in an alleged gang attack.
This came to light after the teen, allegedly from the Hard Livings gang, was stabbed in the back in an apparent revenge attack by rival gang the Americans, who entered the school grounds on Friday morning calling for “HL blood”.
That’s according to a 15-year-old witness.
“They came calling him out of the class upstairs, and when he came to the door they grabbed him. They were fighting coming down the stairs, and then stabbed him in the back,” the pupil said.
He added that all the classrooms on the floor where the victim was accosted were filled with gang members – from the 28s, 26s, Big Fives, HLs and Americans.
“I have pleaded with my mother to take me out of this school because the gangsters are forever shooting here. Every time there’s a different sir (teacher) and the pupils who belong to the gangs threaten them,” the youngster said.
The attackers apparently entered the school premises through broken fencing.
A matric pupil said that after several gunshots rang out, about 15 teenagers barged through the principal’s office, threatening that “if they don’t get what they want, they will kill anybody”.
He said the severely injured teen, who had been back at the school frequently since the school term began, was first badly beaten then stabbed.
“I was panicking and just thinking of my life. Here am I trying to pursue my dreams, but I’m scared. Every day before I go to school I say a prayer so that I can be safe,” the matric pupil said.
Silverstream acting school principal, Anthony Pietersen, said the attack was the continuation of “what’s been happening for a couple of days with the gangs fighting each other.
“(On Thursday afternoon) we already had some action, with a shooting at the front of the school and pupils had to be dismissed. But today again all hell broke loose.”
When gunshots rang out “pupils started running out of the classrooms and to the fence where a group of alleged gangsters had come on to the premises, carrying guns and knives, and then attacked the boy. The children were chaotic and the teachers falling over their feet,” Pietersen said.
The injured boy, believed to be from Philippi, had been given a transfer letter on January 15. Pietersen believed he was still attending classes because “he probably didn’t have another school to go to yet”.
He added that the pupil had failed Grade 9 last year. He was rushed to GF Jooste Hospital opposite the school.
“It’s now questionable whether our children are even safe in class, and we are considering having all the classrooms secured with safety gates. We have a plague of gangsters trespassing or coming during intervals under the false pretence of bringing a pupil a key or lunch. If found we escort them off the premises,” Pietersen said.
Western Cape Education Department spokeswoman Bronagh Casey
said: “The young male was deregistered from the school at the end of last year. The mother of the child had collected transfer papers from the school in January,” she said, adding it remained “unclear” why he was in the school grounds.
She cited gang violence as the “main threat” to school security, saying the latest attack had been sparked by the death of a gangster whose funeral was held on Thursday.
Counselling had been arranged with Safe Schools which had also agreed to repair the broken fencing.
Casey said while school safety remained a priority, the department could not take “sole responsibility” for the safety of pupils. Police and community aid were essential.
This was reiterated by Lieutenant Ian Bennet, from the Manenberg police, who urged community members to report illegal drugs and guns, and to inform on the gangsters.
The problem, however, was that gangsters had almost become “role models” to youngsters.
“Gangsters have the money, flashiest cars and clothes, so they look up to them. Gangs give them guns to run around with,” Bennet said.
Police arrived in force at the school on Friday, with neighbouring homes searched and suspected gang members arrested.
Bennet said gang violence had flared up since Tuesday afternoon, claiming the life of a 25-year-old man, an alleged American. Two suspected HLs were injured in a shootout this week.
“We are holding our breath for the weekend,” he said.
Provincial police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut said the alleged attacker had fled and that no arrests had yet been made.
Traut would not shed light on whether the stabbing was gang-related, only saying that the motive had yet to be established.