Cape Town - Metro police have stepped in to provide a two-week security reprieve to schools in Manenberg’s gang territories.
Yesterday, they arrested a 13-year-old boy for possession of a firearm.
This morning JP Smith, mayoral committee member for Safety and Security, said Metro police were now keeping an eye on schools in the area affected by gang violence.
He visited five schools which have been affected by gang fighting in recent weeks and found that CCTV cameras installed by the Department of Community Safety on these campuses last year have been vandalised. The City of Cape Town will try to retrieve and repair these where possible.
However, staff at the schools say they have been left “defenceless” after the Western Cape High Court set aside an interim court order instructing the Western Cape Education Department to provide armed guards at their schools but police say they are patrolling the areas as normal.
On Friday, the Manenberg teacher’s steering committee and representatives of Silverstream Secondary, Sonderend Primary, Edendale Primary, Red River Primary and Rio Grande Primary brought an urgent application to the high court.
They argued that the department should be compelled to provide additional measures to ensure the safety of pupils and staff that had been compromised by gang fighting near their schools.
However, the department challenged the court order on Monday.
Yesterday, Judge James Yekiso said in his ruling that the order be set aside, “particularly in the light of the implementation of a comprehensive security plan arising from a meeting held by stakeholders and the SAPS on Sunday, February 23”.
He added: “Should a need arise, the applicants would be at liberty to once again approach the court.”
Outside court, Manenberg High deputy principal, Mogamat Adams, said: “It’s like… the lives of children are cheap. The department never had a plan and this decision stinks.”
Meanwhile the National Professional Teacher’s Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) Western Cape said it was concerned about the conditions that teachers and pupils faced at school. Chairman David Millar said teaching and learning could not happen while (people) feared for their lives.
Education MEC Donald Grant said the rescinding of the interim order did not lessen the department’s commitment to ensure the safety of teachers and pupils. “We share the real concerns of our teachers and our learners,” he said.
Head of Education Penny Vinjevold said the department would continue to monitor the situation.