Durban – KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Education, Kwazi Mshengu said on Thursday that these days it’s becoming risky to be a teacher.
This, after an incident at Dassenhoek High school, west of Durban, on Wednesday where four learners were stabbed, two were left seriously injured after three armed suspects broke into the school and held it up, according to the school’s principal. The suspects took cash and cell phones from pupils. One suspect was arrested yesterday.
It was revealed that out of the three suspects, two were former pupils while the other was a pupil at a neighbouring high school.
Mshengu was speaking during a briefing with the media and teachers at the school during a visit that sought to bring a sense of calm to the enraged community.
The MEC said that community members who live around schools have passed their responsibility on to teachers. He said that putting armed security guards at schools was a simplistic approach in trying to solve the problems that pupils and teachers face.
Mshengu said schools are becoming more dangerous for teachers and the department has had instances where they were stabbed by learners.
“Imagine if yesterday, there was a security guard who was armed and responded with fire. What would have happened to teachers and learners who would have been caught in the cross fire?
“But equally, we don’t believe that our schools should resemble war zones; schools should be a convenient place for an educator and learners for the purposes of teaching and learning.
“We are here to say that we stand with you, because one of the problems we have in our society is that our communities are abdicating their responsibilities to you as educators. I will not be surprised if, in our community engagement, someone asks where the teachers were?
“They think it is the responsibility of you [teachers] to fight drugs and dangerous weapons in our communities,” Mshengu said.
Dassenhoek High School is perched atop the rolling hills of KZN, in a community with very little access to basic services, much less armed security. On the road leading up to the school, there is a single tap in site where community members were seen fetching water for their daily needs.
Some come with buckets while others use smaller containers. The road itself leading up to the school is dotted with potholes.
Maintenance around the school looks poor. Windows in every classroom are broken. The grass around the school did not appear to have been cut for a long time.
While Mshengu addressed learners, with teachers and EFF members in attendance, police arrived with the remaining two suspects in the back of their van.
The crowd rushed to the police van, demanding the suspects were released to the community.
Police had to fend off angry community members and even the mother of a pupil who had been attacked during the incident.
“There have been a lot of similar incidents around this area and our schools. Our children are not safe. I am scared these guys will do something to him because he fought them. Their threats to him don’t put me at ease,” said Phindi Nyathi, a guardian of one of the pupils who was attacked.