Cape Town - 120619 - Community members and parents of children at Athwood Primary have organized a security group that patrols the school during the day and through the night to discourage vandalism. Pictured L to R is Fatima Blankenberg, Colin Fredericks, Rachel Fredericks and Lennet Skippers. Reporter: Ilse Fredericks Photographer: David Ritchie

A Hanover Park school that has repeatedly been damaged by burglars and vandals is under threat of closure because it has become unsafe and too expensive to repair.

But the school community has vowed to fight back and has launched patrols after hours to ensure thugs are kept out.

The Cape Argus reported last year on Athwood Primary’s continual struggle with vandalism and theft.

Ceilings had been damaged, taps and fluorescent lights stolen, and large sections of the fence removed.

On Tuesday, principal Franklin Phillipus said the school had received a letter informing it of Education MEC Donald Grant’s intention to close it.

Grant wrote that he intended to close the school because:

l The regular incidence of theft had rendered the school unsafe.

l It had become economically unviable to pay continually for repairs.

l The absence of a fence and conditions at the school left pupils and teachers at risk.

Phillipus said parents had taken charge of the security situation at the school.

“They secure the school (around the clock), with the result that for the past couple of months we haven’t had a single case of vandalism, burglary or theft.”

Fatima Blankenberg, an executive member of the Hanover Park Civic Association, said parents and members of the association patrolled the school after hours

The school has just under 500 pupils and is among 27 in the Western Cape facing closure.

In a press statement on Tuesday, Cosatu said the threat to close the 27 schools was “an indication of the high-handed manner in which the provincial government treats the interest of working-class black learners”.

Grant’s spokeswoman, Bronagh Casey, said 39 burglaries and incidents involving damage at Athwood Primary had been reported since the beginning of 2010.

Since 2010, about R500 000 had been spent on repairs and on security infrastructure for the school.

Casey said a decision about closing the school would be made only once all prescribed processes had been completed and requirements met. These included input from the school governing body and community.

Casey said Cosatu had once again confirmed its tendency to cheapen challenging decisions that needed to be taken to ensure the delivery of improved schooling for all children in the province.

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Cape Argus