Cape Town – The number of gang-related incidents in and around schools is on the increase in the Western Cape, with three pupils appearing in a Mossel Bay court today after a fatal stabbing at Hillcrest Secondary School.
After a Manenberg school demanded protection from the Western Cape Education Department in August, spokesperson Bronagh Hammond expressed concern over schools situated in areas plagued by gang violence and poverty in the Western Cape.
A Hillcrest Secondary Grade 9 pupil was allegedly stabbed to death on Monday morning by three pupils. Three pupils between grades 8 and 12 were arrested in connection with the incident, which occurred in full view of pupils and teachers.
Gang-related violence and racial tension led to the fatal stabbing of the 17-year-old pupil at the school, MosselBayOnline reported. The tragic incident has increased the tension, with some traumatised pupils deciding to stay at home on Tuesday.
Security measures were also put in place and there was no outside break the day after the murder.
"The situation is still volatile. We have reinforced our security at the school. There will be guards on the premises but also we'll have continuous surveillance on school premises for the next two weeks,” principal Ivan Kronenberg said on Tuesday.
Khuselo Ndanda died in hospital from his injuries after collapsing in Kronenberg’s arms.
Kronenberg highlighted the fact that parents were often in denial of their children being involved with gangs, the SABC reported.
He said gangsters from other schools would gain illegal access to the school by jumping over the fence at the back, and that weapons and drugs were hidden in bushes.
In August, parents, teachers and pupils from Blomvlei Primary School in Hanover Park demanded protection from the Western Cape Education Department.
The school has reported five cases of shootings, three of gang presence in the area and two incidents of burglary and vandalism this year, the Cape Argus reported.
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.
Also in August, three pupils were stabbed at the Indwe Secondary School in Mossel Bay on successive days.
On August 21, a 19-year-old pupil was stabbed in the back by a pupil of a similar age off the school premises. The accused was arrested.
The following morning a group of pupils allegedly brought a bag full of weapons to the school, the Mossel Bay Advertiser reported.
They had waited for another group of pupils to finish writing a test before allegedly stabbing two of them. When a teacher tried to intervene, she was allegedly assaulted by the pupils.
It was also reported that some of the perpetrators were not from Indwe but attended other schools in the area. Five people were arrested over the incident.
Hammond said in June: “The Western Cape Education Department is committed to ensuring quality education for every learner, in every classroom, in every school across the Western Cape.
“The WCED implements various strategies to address school violence and safety. Unfortunately, many of the safety risks are a result of community and gang violence which affects the safety environment of our schools. Addressing these issues goes beyond our mandate and control."
Commenting on the positive impact of school resource officers, Hammond said: “The City of Cape Town’s school resource officer initiative is a collaboration between the WCED and our schools that began in 2013, based on best practice in the United States.
“The presence of school resource officers assists to alleviate the struggles faced by the department in dealing with school violence, particularly where there is a high rate of gangsterism.
“Not only do they have the skills to react to certain emergency situations but they also provide a sense of safety and protection.”
Cayla Ann Tomás Murray, the spokesperson for Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, said in August 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.