Cape Town - Fearing for their lives and those of their pupils, staff at a school in Uitsig stopped teaching on Friday morning following weeks of harassment by gangsters on the premises.
But urgent intervention by the provincial education department saw lessons resume later in the day, when security was bolstered.
Department spokesman Paddy Attwell said guards would be stationed on the school grounds and police would do extra patrols in the area.
For weeks gangsters have walked on to the grounds of Uitsig Secondary, barging into lessons, threatening teachers and stealing from pupils.
When “tattooed” gang members mugged pupils on the school grounds on Thursday it was the final straw, said a teacher who wanted to remain anonymous because he feared losing his job.
“We had to close our doors for the safety of our pupils and the teachers.”
When the Cape Argus arrived at the school on Friday morning, pupils were milling around outside “waiting for the bell to ring”.
Many decided to go home.
But plans to close the school for the day were headed off by the education department, which called an urgent meeting with staff.
According to one teacher, police joined the discussions.
The gangsters often posed as ex-pupils, walked into classrooms lighting up cigarettes and looking for a “bag to grab”, the teacher said.