Police members cover the body of a teacher who was gunned down at a primary school in KZN. Calls are growing for a specialised police unit to deal with school violence. 
Motshwari Mofokeng African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - THE call by the National Teachers’ Union (Natu) for a police specialised unit to deal with violence at schools around the country following the deaths of many on school premises has been received by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga as a workable solution.

In the wake of recent violence, Natu tabled a proposal for the department to establish a task team to look into the issue and establish a special unit to ensure school safety.

Allan Thompson, union president, said having a dedicated focus on priority crimes had in the past yielded the desired fruits.

“In the taxi industry we have seen dedicated policing units being established to deal specifically with all the eventualities that occur in that industry.

“In response to serious farm killings and stock theft, we have also seen the police establish a special unit to deal with these,” he said.

In a letter dated July 8, Motshekga agreed and accepted the Natu proposal to create a national multipronged task team, comprising her department, the police and the national Treasury.

Their aim should be to urgently search for appropriate measures to implement immediate solutions to school violence.

The letter thanked Natu for the proposal, specifically about establishing a schools’ safety task team.

The department told the union it would be working out a plan to effect its proposal.

Thompson said they were particularly pleased that it took less than a week for the minister to agree to their proposal.

“Teachers are faced with school violence from different perpetrators, including, but not limited to, exasperated community members, hired assassins, ill-disciplined learners, drug-pedlars and dealers.

“Reported violent attacks on learners and teachers range from deadly military-style attacks on schools, to matters of conflict between persons and groups of people, sexual harassment and violence in the classroom, and attacks on or abductions of people on their way to or from school.”

Thompson said teachers regularly witnessed and experienced violence directly on school premises - whether perpetrated on them or on learners under their supervision.

He said it was for this reason that Natu requested Motshekga to establish a task team that would include teacher unions as the legitimate representatives of teachers and custodians of learners, who were the intended beneficiaries of any safety and security measures.

He said in motivating its proposal, Natu expressed concern that, although many discussions had been held in the past about school safety, these could be summarised simply as having been “all talk but no action”, because where words did not translate into concrete actions, they perpetually rang hollow.

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