Mncedisi Ntuli, 29, and Thandazani Majola, 46, were beaten and killed at Ukusa High School in Hammarsdale, outside Durban, on Wednesday night. A third guard was seriously hurt. The killers were apparently after equipment newly donated to the school, including desktop computers and laptops.
While the provincial legislature approved the department’s Schools Safety Plan, which includes the deployment of security guards, Wednesday night’s incident has highlighted the dangers the prospective guards would face, including being targeted for their guns, if armed.
During his visit to the school on Thursday, Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu expressed concern that although the robbers had not gained access to the equipment, which had been stored in the school’s strong room, the incident was an indication of the extent of crime targeting schools.
During his budget vote yesterday, Mshengu presented his Schools Safety Plan, which has already been approved by the provincial executive council and includes the deployment of community-based volunteers, who will be identified from their communities and trained as security guards. The department is planning to employ 300 security guards and an undisclosed number of volunteers to ensure that there is at least one guard at the gate of every school.
After the attack on the guards, Mshengu said it was clear that one guard per school might not be enough and appealed to communities to get involved in ensuring school safety.
The guards were employed by the school to guard the premises after the donation of the new equipment.
Yesterday morning, the principal arrived at the school and found the gate locked. Another guard had already arrived for the day shift and was also locked out.
He and the principal then jumped over the gate to investigate, and discovered the guards in a classroom. Two were dead while the third was rushed to hospital.
Three weeks ago, two guards were shot during a robbery at Folweni High school. One died later in hospital, while the other is still recovering.
Teachers’ unions have expressed concern that having volunteers guarding schools against ruthless criminals was not “a properly thought-out plan”.
Thirona Moodley, spokesperson for the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa, said the “risky duty” of guarding schools against ruthless criminals needed to be executed by committed, well-trained professionals.
Bheki Shandu, deputy provincial secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, said they would challenge the department to employ the volunteers permanently.
Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said they would consult education stakeholders before identifying the volunteers and advertising the guard posts.