59 Western Cape schools damaged by burglaries and vandalism during the holidays
Cape Town - The number of burglaries and incidents of vandalism at schools in the province during the holidays has increased to 59, says the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
Spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said that during the 2020/21 holiday period, 59 incidents were reported – 48 minor, four major, seven attempted burglaries or vandalism. She said 39 incidents were reported in 2019.
Hammond said the districts where the major incidents occurred included two schools in the Cape Winelands, one in Metro Central and one in Metro South.
“All four cases were reported to the police. Items stolen included fencing, computers, data projectors, electrical equipment and gas cylinders,” she said.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said she was disappointed that again many schools had fallen victim to burglary and vandalism during the holidays.
“Our schools simply cannot afford to lose resources at this time, and the department does not have the spare budget to keep replacing stolen or damaged items,” she said.
Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools legal services manager Juané van der Merwe said schools were a reflection of communities.
“If vandalism and theft are rife in communities, those crimes are likely to occur on school premises.”
Van der Merwe urged school governing bodies to be more vigilant when it came to security.
“The emphasis is placed on well-planned strategies for access control and the upgrading of fences or new CCTV cameras, and that recordings of events are also very handy in the prosecution process.”
ANC provincial spokesperson on education Khalid Sayed said school vandalism was a recurring problem in the province.
“Sadly, the damage to the 59 schools will amount to lots of money that we do not have.”
Sayed called on the WCED to rebuild and strengthen relations with school communities so they could provide the much-needed security to school infrastructure and to report criminal activities to authorities.
Hammond said the WCED did provide schools with security, such as fencing, burglar bars, security gates and alarms linked to armed response.
“We are continually replacing stolen fencing. Often, the part of the fence vandalised is in an area that is visible to the community. The WCED also provides 24-hour security at selected schools,” she said.