Cape Town - The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said a Mitchells Plain school became aware of rumours that some learners may have access to Xanax tablets.
This follows a letter that was issued to create awareness and warn parents and learners of the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.
Beacon Hill High School circulated the note after the shooting of Firdous Kleinsmidt, 12, at Ieglassi Nieyah School on Tuesday.
The document reads: “Please be aware of the following: Kindly refrain from following any voice notes and posts that advocate keeping your child at home. Such actions may lead to children wandering the streets, posing potential risks.
“It is crucial to recognise that schools are designed to prioritise and ensure the safety and security of our learners ... There is suspicion that some learners are involved in the sale of Xanax tablets. Last year, a learner nearly lost his life due to the consumption of these tablets.”
The letter from the principal continued to say it is imperative that parents have a conversation with their children about the gravity of ingesting Xanax tablets.
“If anyone has information about those selling these Xanax tablets, please inform the school office promptly. We appeal to you for your support in eradicating illegal activities from our school environment. Together, we can create a safer and stronger community.”
WCED spokesperson Millicent Merton commended the school for taking proactive action in alerting parents to the possible use of the drug within the school community.
“Schools are public spaces and in terms of the Regulations for Safety Measures at public schools, 2001, as amended, the national minister of basic education declared all public schools as drug-free zones.”
Activist, founder and co-ordinator of Parents for Equal Education SA (PEESA), Vanessa le Roux said it was frustrating how the department downplayed life-threatening issues at schools.
“The fact that they send out a letter to parents now has absolutely nothing to do with creating awareness; it means now the situation is out of control ... awareness should have been when the very first incident took place.
“We know that principals and management are not allowed to speak out. However, SGBs have a responsibility towards parents and communities to inform them of what is happening to their children.
“Drugs in schools are not isolated, as we have seen in the recent past; it goes hand in hand with children selling those drugs on school grounds. There are dangerous fights over drug territory, violence and gangsterism that goes with the distribution of these drugs on school grounds.
“If anyone has the interest of our children at heart, they will treat these challenges with the seriousness it deserves … Parents should know about the interventions that were made.”