Durban - Over the years, gang violence in the Wentworth and Bluff area, just south of Durban, has grown out of the control of police and community members. But a recent incident may suggest that gang violence has now entered schools in the area.
Escalating turf wars between rival gangs have seen high school pupils becoming involved in the country’s multibillion-rand drug trade, according to Wentworth community activist Desmond D’sa.
In the most recent incident, a pupil from Umbilo Secondary in the Bluff allegedly put up a picture on social media indicating that one wears a bulletproof vest when going to Umbilo Secondary.
The image was shared among parents of pupils who attend the school, resulting in yet another outpouring of concern about the level of violence.
A Durban parent whose daughter attends Umbilo Secondary spoke to IOL on condition of anonymity to protect her child.
She said as a working parent, it is “scary” for her because in the back of her mind she is constantly fretting over her child’s safety at the school.
“As a parent we endeavour to keep our children safe even by sending them to our public schools close to home even though they want to go to model C schools. But this too is a nightmare, with violence spilling into our schools in the community.
“As a parent, it is so scary being at work and wondering if our kids are safe as these fights are daily and so out of control.
“It’s so heartbreaking to see the fear in your child if they witness a fellow student being stabbed in front of them as they walk home, or see boys showing others their weapons,” she said.
D’sa has experienced his fair share of gang-related incidents in the area and says urgent intervention is needed. It is believed that rival gangs in the area each claw at one another to claim a bigger turf in order to flood the streets with their drugs.
This behaviour has allegedly trickled into schools in recent times, resulting in an increased number of violent incidents.
But the responsibility of cleaning up schools doesn’t rest on the shoulders of the Department of Education or police alone, but parents as well, D’sa explained.
He said it’s not just Wentworth and Umbilo schools that experience these acts of violence.
“It’s all about turf. The kids are selling drugs in the schools and it ends up in fights when they decide who controls turf in the school.
“There’s little support provided to these schools, who are doing everything they can to prevent this. I think the Department of Education needs to do more in terms of providing security.
“Unless we bring back some of those things that helped provide a quality education, it won’t stop. And this is not just Wentworth, these things are happening all over,” D’sa said.
He said metro police have been present, but schools need a strategic plan to deal with the problem.
“We think that parents should also play an active role because children won’t listen to anyone else and the parents must understand their role in it and hopefully start working towards it as well.
“Discipline starts in the home. And if we all come together, I think we can beat the scourge in our community,” he added.