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Truant kids get nasty surprise

Cape Town -

Police descended on several Delft homes on Tuesday, including a so-called house of horrors, in a counter-truancy operation to get pupils back to school.

Safe Schools's Cindy-Lee Matthee with a truant pupil. Pictures: Tracey Adams. Credit: INLSA

Some were still asleep when the SAPS, accompanied by Education MEC Donald Grant, school principals, neigbourhood watch members and the Department of Social Development, arrived at their homes.

Five homes were visited and five pupils were found at home during the first round of visits.

By the end of the day this had increased to 21 pupils.

The mother of a Grade 9 pupil, who was still in bed, said she had called in social workers in a bid to get her daughter back to school.

The girl has already missed nine months of school but allegedly got dressed for school every morning.

At another house, several children were seen running away as police arrived.

A 14-year-old found in the house told Grant that he didn’t have clothes.

“It is quite clear that this is a fact,” said Grant. “The mother spoke to me about AllPay not being sufficient. We’ll look, with social development, into the circumstances of that family.”

At the so-called house of horrors, where pupils allegedly go to drink during school hours, it appeared that nobody was home.

The SAPS said the children usually arrived later in the day.

At another house, an eight-year-old boy said his alarm clock had not gone off. “Clearly this is not the case,” Grant told reporters.

An older girl, who was also supposed to be in school, was also at this house.

All the children were taken to Hindle High School where their details were recorded.

Counsellors and social workers were also available to counsel pupils.

“This morning (Tuesday) has been a very sobering experience for me”, Grant told reporters.

“We are not here on a witch-hunt, we are to ensure that these children have the necessary support so that they can come to school.

“My concern is that these children are at risk if they are not at school during the day.”

He said the operations with the police would continue. The Western Cape Education Department would conduct follow-ups with each of the pupils to monitor their school attendance, inform their parents and ask for their support. - Cape Argus

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