Cape Town - The number of gang-related incidents in and around schools is on the increase, but at least one school has had enough “of being showered with bullets”.
Parents, teachers and pupils from Blomvlei Primary School in Hanover Park have demanded protection from the Western Cape Education Department.
This year, the school has reported five cases of shootings, three of gang presence in the area and two incidents of burglary and vandalism.
The vice-president of the school governing body (SGB), Raatiqah Tagodien, said they were demanding protection from the department and the police.
“Our schools are showered with bullets daily, as we are situated on a corner facing different gang territories. The gang violence and school burglaries are stopping our children from reaching their full potential,” Tagodien said.
She said teachers were spending their time protecting their pupils from being shot, “instead of educating them. They selflessly risking their lives to shield our children from bullets flying through the fence and windows”.
Tagodien said everyone associated with the school was traumatised.
“Often we have to lie flat on the ground while the gangs are at war outside our school. Our pupils and parents have been caught in the cross-fire,” she said.
“We are demanding extra security from the department to prevent future burglaries. Our parents cannot afford to consistently contribute towards replacing stolen items.”
Tagodien said their school could not function normally, “in this abnormal society”.
Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said they were aware of the school’s concerns.
“We share their concerns, as we do with many of our schools situated in areas plagued by gang violence and poverty,” she said.
She added that the school was receiving their attention and a site visit would take place this week.
“The school was supported by Safe Schools with a wireless alarm system, intercom system, fencing, gate motor and video intercom and forms part of the holiday security plan.
“The school intercom system is to be repaired due to the theft of cables,” she said.
Hammond added that they were also helping with the repair of the fence.
She said the department had in place through the Employee Health and Wellness programme (EWP), a plan to address teacher stress and safety challenges that included profiling schools in gang and violent areas, and an agreement with the EWP service provider to make contact with schools in gang and violent areas, and advocating services and support.
Cayla Ann Tomás Murray, the spokesperson for Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, said they were working together with the provincial department of education and other role-players to ensure the ongoing safety of all pupils at all schools.