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Cape Town - Metro police who have been trained to make schools safer for children at selected schools in Cape Town will report for duty for the first time when the new academic year begins on Wednesday.
Metro police chief Wayne le Roux, said the School Resource Officers (SROs) had received extensive training last September from the National Association of School Resource Officers, an NGO in the US.
“With the financial assistance of Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading, we provided additional training in conflict resolution, communications, project management, computer skills, crime prevention through environmental planning, and broken windows theory,” said Le Roux.
“The officers conducted surveys of the most challenging environmental factors that might impinge on their work. At this stage we’re preparing and working behind the scenes. It’s going back to basics for them. They will need to build relationships and trust with the pupils.”
While the city’s long-term plan is to have a School Resource Officer at every school, they’re starting with six officers at six city high schools. They start work on Wednesday at Oscar Mpetha High School in Nyanga, Sizimisele High School in Khayelitsha, Bishop Lavis High School, Lotus High School, Chrystal High School in Hanover Park, and Phoenix High School in Manenberg.
Principals said they were “very excited” about the programme.
Dominic Maruping, principal of Sizimisele High where teenagers attacked one another with pangas in gang fights last year, said the presence of an officer would be “a great help”.
“His visibility alone will be a very good thing. He will be able to communicate with the children, provide counselling, and share his knowledge and experience… He will also be of great assistance to parents who sometimes don’t know what to do,” Maruping said.
Dumile Mawisa, principal of Oscar Mpetha High, said he and his school would do their best to make the programme a success. “Anything related to improving safety and security at our school is very much welcome. Schools can definitely benefit from the project.”
Shafiek Abrahams, principal of Phoenix High, said the officer’s presence would benefit the Manenberg community as a whole: “As a school we will tackle the problem of the drop-out rate… our SRO will be doing house visits. The learners who got to meet the officer last year… like that they have someone to protect them, and share ideas… (on improving) the community,” he said.
JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said that apart from safety at the schools, the aim of the programme was to establish a youth and civilian academy. “The SROs will be at the schools permanently, working on the safe-movement corridor to and from the schools – where officers patrol, where the lighting is best, and where there are CCTV cameras.
“They will make sure that if there’s violence on school grounds they quickly summon other metro police to respond.”