Cape Town - The killing of a Grade 6 maths teacher at the Heinz Park Primary School in Philippi on Tuesday has left the community and teacher unions calling for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to beef-up security at schools.
Thulani Manqoyi, 53, was shot dead in the parking area of the school while sitting in his vehicle. Police spokesperson Andrè Traut said the incident occurred at around 7.45am.
Traut said two unknown suspects fled the scene and have yet to be arrested.
WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said Manqoyi, who had been teaching at the school since 2008, was shot dead after parking his car in the school parking area before the school day began.
When the news of Manqoyi’s death surfaced in the area, community members quickly filled the area outside the school fence. One of the parents said he was shocked to see his children coming back from school, when they just left before 8am.
“When I asked them the reason for their return, they told me that a teacher was shot and killed. I had to come to the school to see what was happening,” said the parent, who did not want to be named.
Among the onlookers was Cape Coloured Congress (CCC) president Fadiel Adams, who said teachers were no longer safe at work and that it was an indicator of the state of their society.
Adams called on all spheres of government to carry out their respective mandates to ensure that the safety of all citizenry was guaranteed.
“The safety of our teachers must be sacrosanct, this is not negotiable. We call on the police to ensure swift arrests and prosecution of the killers,” said Adams.
Manqoyi’s distraught brother, Simphiwe, said the family was shocked after receiving a call from the school, telling him that his brother was shot and killed at the school.
He said the family was still struggling to make sense of Manqoyi’s death, and would meet to discuss the way forward, because at the moment, “we are still shocked”.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said she too was shocked to hear of a shooting that had taken the life of one of their teachers.
“We do not have more details at this stage, but it is vital that the police do everything in their power to find and arrest the perpetrator/s as soon as possible. It is unacceptable that our teachers, who are providing one of the most vital services for our country, cannot be safe at work,” said Schäfer.
SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) provincial chairperson Jonavon Rustin called on the WCED to beef-up security at Heinz Park Primary and surrounding areas so that everybody involved in the school was safe.
Rustin said schools were supposed to be places of safety, and teachers, learners and the non-teaching staff needed to be protected from those horrendous acts of violence.
SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) provincial chairperson Bongikhaya Qhama said teachers deserve much better security at schools.
“Manqoyi has indeed sacrificed his life for teaching and making South Africa better.”
ANC provincial spokesperson on education Khalid Sayed said the WCED must ensure that it finds out how a dangerous weapon was brought on to state premises.
“It must ensure what measures there were to report such infringements and to resolve conflicts and disputes or to deal with anger and disappointment, together with other provincial departments, and provide teachers with all the support they needed,” said Sayed.
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said it was unacceptable that thugs saw fit to come into school grounds and commit such heinous acts, and that learners, teaching staff and non-teaching staff were exposed to that level of violence.
Hammond said counselling support had been arranged for learners and teachers.
“The incident is most distressing. We have no further details on the incident at this stage. The police were on the scene.”
Anyone with information that could assist in the investigation is urged to contact the Crime Stop number 0860010111 or act via the MySAPSApp.