Picture: Matthews Baloyi/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng on Tuesday said it was concerned that laptops, smartboards and tablets worth millions of rand have been stolen from Gauteng schools in the last three years.

DA Gauteng member of the executive council for education, Khume Ramulifho, said 49 laptops to the value of R527 000 were reported stolen in the past three financial years.  

As many as 379 smartboards to the value of about R5.5 million were also stolen and 8 200 tablets to the estimated value of R42.9 million were reported either stolen or lost in the past three financial years.

Ramulifho said he got the information from a response to his questions posed to Education and Youth Development MEC Panyaza Lesufi in the provincial legislature. 

"The department only managed to recover 342 smartboards and 200 tablets from those that were reported stolen with the police," said Ramulifho.

"In addition, a total of 170 incidents of theft and vandalism with the estimated damage value of R2 064 000 have been reported to the department in the last three financial years with only 113 incidents reported to the police. 

"There are no clear reasons as to why 57 incidents of theft and vandalism were not reported to the police. We call on MEC Lesufi to institute an investigation into these cases to ascertain why they were not reported."

Ramulifho said despite the fact that some cases of stolen tablets, laptops and smartboards have been reported to the police, the department was not aware of any cases that have been finalised in the past three financial years.

He said the lack of urgency indicates poor school safety strategies. 

Equally, the police were failing to prioritise schools as there was no investigation progress report for the cases opened, said Ramulifho.

"It is very worrying that the department continues to lose millions in theft and burglaries while not much is being done to safeguard assets. The department has dismally failed to prevent the incidents of theft and burglaries in our schools," said Ramulifho. 

"It is right time to explore other safety measures such as installing CCTV cameras and alarm systems linked to nearby police stations as a way of strengthening security measures.

"Untrained and unarmed patrollers alone will not be able to safeguard our valuable assets they also need community members to take ownership of the schools."

African News Agency/ANA