Cape Town - A fourth school child has reportedly been abducted in the Southern Suburbs following a string of kidnappings that occurred in Zonnebloem area earlier this month.
In the latest incident, a Grade 9 pupil was abducted while walking to school last week.
The incident occurred hot on the heels of a circular sent out to schools by a social worker of the Metropole Central Education District, advising parents of a spike in child abductions in the Zonnebloem area and surrounds.
Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, said the reports raise concerns for pupils who travel alone to and from school, especially girls.
"We have now received another report of a Grade 9 learner from a Southern Suburbs school who was reportedly abducted and allegedly sexually assaulted while travelling to school on the morning of 23rd August 2018," Schäfer said.
"The learner reported that men in a white BMW, with tinted windows, stopped next to her and pulled her into the car, before driving around with her for hours.
"The matter has been reported to the South African Police Services Steenberg and the learner has received medical attention. A school social worker and psychologist are also providing counselling to the learner and her family.
"The safety of our learners outside the school gates remains beyond our control, but schools need to ensure that there are safety measures in place at dismissal time," Shäfer said.
The principal of Milnerton Pre-Primary School also sent out a "Stranger Danger" circular to parents that has been widely shared on social media.
"Learners who are picked up at their school by parents or caregivers, should remain within the school property until they have visibly identified their mode of transport. Learners who require public transport and are expected to walk to their relevant departure areas, should travel in groups at all times. However, where feasible, parents must please arrange that this is as close to the school as possible.
"Schools should ensure that learners are aware of 'stranger danger'. While we do not want to frighten them, they must know that they should be wary and immediately seek help if a stranger approaches them. Learners must be taught not to accept any free food, drinks, money or objects from strangers and should report any suspicious characters to an educator or administrator at the school as soon as possible," she said.
"Last week, our Head of Department Brian Schreuder also issued communication to schools to remind them to review and update their safety policies, particularly around access control and to ensure that procedures are in place to deal with reported abduction cases," she said.
Shäfer also pleaded with the police to increase visible patrols around schools, particularly when children are walking to and from their institutions.