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Cape Town - Police, metro police and other law enforcement officers swarmed a school in Khayelitsha on Thursday during an unannounced visit to search pupils for drugs and weapons.
Several minutes passed before they actually started searching the classrooms at Bulumko Secondary and by then pupils were already aware of their presence.
With the help of sniffer dogs, 11 classrooms were searched. Girls and boys were searched separately and no drugs or weapons were found.
The search was arranged following an increase in gang violence among the youth in Khayelitsha over the past few months.
Education MEC Donald Grant said the incidents of violence had occurred outside school premises, after school hours.
“At Bulumko Secondary there have been a number of incidents of violence between learners belonging to different gangs after school. In other cases learners from rival gangs and from other schools have been involved.”
He said gang violence had also affected after-school study programmes for Grade 12 pupils: “At one stage learner attendance at these programmes was low. Learners expressed fear of being attacked while walking home from these programmes.”
Grant said the Western Cape Education Department had several discussions with the police on the matter and had asked for increased patrolling after school hours.
Grant said the Department of Community Safety had employed three field workers to implement a six-month life skills training programme at schools in high-risk gang areas.
Principal Bernard Hlongwane said knives had been found during previous searches.
Grant’s spokeswoman Bronagh Casey said he was disappointed to see that some children were not in class when the police arrived at the school.
Some pupils were looking out the windows and were not participating in classroom activities.
Casey said Grant had asked the district office to investigate why these pupils were not participating in classroom activities.
“Learners are to remain in their classrooms at all times during a search and seizure operation, unless a specific class is being targeted. In this instance, male learners are asked to line up outside the classrooms, while female learners remain inside. If properly managed, all learners should have been in their classrooms before, during and after the police arrived.”
Hlongwane said he was not aware that pupils had not been participating in class activities, adding that he wasn’t sure if this was because they had seen the convoy of police arriving.