Lavender Hill teachers cry for help
Cape Town – Gang violence in Lavender Hill has forced the closure of four schools and teachers have demanded that Premier Helen Zille, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer and area city councillors intervene in the crisis.
Teachers from Levana, Hillwood and Prince George primary schools and Lavender Hill High School are now reporting for duty at the regional Department of Education office in Ottery instead of to their schools.
In a bid to come up with a plan to protect pupils and teachers from gang warfare in Lavender Hill, teachers on Monday protested on the corner of De Waal Road and Prince George Drive.
A spokesperson for the Lavender Hill Schools safety and security committee, whose identity is being withheld, said that the teachers would protest on the corner of 5th Avenue and Prince George Drive on Tuesday and then report to the regional office to await a meeting with Zille and Schäfer.
“In the event that they do not pitch then the process will still continue, where the schools will still be closed until such time that the safety and security of our pupils outside the schools are guaranteed," the spokesperson told the Cape Argus.
“Currently pupils are safe in schools, teachers are safe in schools, but the area surrounding our schools is volatile. And that is where change needs to occur.
“We need the stakeholders to come on board now and until that happens, we are going to keep the schools closed.”
Education department spokesperson Millicent Merton said the schools were closed after consultation with education department heads. All the teachers and principals, high-ranking officers from Steenberg police station and area councillor Lucinda Evans were present at the meeting in Ottery.
Merton said invitations were sent to Schäfer and Safety and Security MEC Dan Plato to address teachers.
A teacher wrote to the Cape Argus that the trauma was so intense, shooting occurred right outside a school’s offices and that after the religious holiday on Thursday, attendance was down to zero at Levana, three at Hillwood, 80 at Prince George and 53 at Lavender Hill High. Parents had to collect their children from school.
“I write in pure desperation for our learners and staff in Lavender Hill and the surrounding schools of Lavender Hill. The splattering of bullets being fired can be heard as far afield as far as Grassy Park and Cafda Retreat.”
Sibongile Kwazi, spokesperson for the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu Western Cape) said the union supported the teachers and that she had visited the schools on Friday and had heard the shooting, and “it was scary".
"You can’t go to school dodging bullets."