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Cape Town -
More than R5 million has been spent on repairing vandalised and burgled Western Cape schools since April – an increase of more than R1m compared to the previous financial year.
In her State of the Province address on Friday, Premier Helen Zille said millions more were spent on providing security guards for schools.
“This is money that should be going to our core function of education,” Zille said.
Bronagh Casey, the spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant, said R3.8m was spent on repairing vandalised and burgled schools in the 2011/12 financial year
Casey said fencing, piping and electrical cabling had been the biggest target. She said the department spent about R500 000 each year on repairing fences at schools. In many cases, wire and mesh fencing that was replaced, was soon vandalised or stolen again.
Casey said the absence of a fence could create a safety risk for pupils during the school day as trespassers could enter the premises. This could also lead to further incidences of vandalism and theft. It also allowed easy access for pupils to leave the grounds during school hours.
“To improve security at school in order to minimise vandalism the Western Cape Education Department is now replacing wire mesh fencing with steel palisade and concrete palisade fencing at schools. Palisade fencing is more costly but less prone to vandalism.”
She said the department could not police fences around the clock and needed the assistance of schools and school governing bodies to raise awareness among communities to alert the police if they noticed vandalism or theft. During the December holidays 24 schools reported vandalism or burglary cases to the Education Department. The same number of cases were reported during the previous December holidays .
On the first day of the school year the Cape Argus reported that Blomvlei Primary in Hanover Park had been among the schools hit by vandals during the holidays.
The school’s principal, Dawn Petersen, said feeding scheme supplies, including samp and beans, had been stolen, as well as sports uniforms.
Earlier this month buildings at Heideveld Primary, which were scheduled to be demolished, were badly vandalised. People came by horse, on foot and by car to steal any usable part of the buildings.
The Western Cape Education Department placed around-the-clock security at the school.