Robbers posing as parents hit school

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Mar 19, 2015

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Cape Town - A Kensington principal was held at gunpoint and a staff member dragged by her hair after three people, disguised as parents wanting to enrol their children, robbed Windermere Primary School this week.

None of the school’s 800 pupils were on the premises at the time, as they had been transported to Paarl for an excursion, principal Brian Chellan said.

Education Department spokeswoman Jessica Shelver said at about 11am on Tuesday, a woman approached the locked school gate with the premise of obtaining application forms for Grade R admission. The cleaner opened the gate and allowed the woman to enter, and was followed by another woman and a man, and the three were led to an office.

“When a staff member turned around to get a form, the robbers grabbed her and dragged her by the hair to the principal’s office,” Shelver said.

The principal’s office door was closed as he prepared receipts for monies collected for the excursion.

“The money had already been prepared for banking and was locked in the safe.”

The man then pointed a firearm at the principal and demanded the money, and Chellan initially handed over coins in 2-litre ice-cream containers. The man moved closer towards Chellan and demanded notes, Shelver said.

“He opened the safe and again tried to offer him coins. They were refused, and he pointed the firearm at the principal’s head and cocked it.”

Chellan then handed over more ice-cream containers containing notes and the man demanded they be put into a bag, which Chellan did.

The man then ordered Chellan to step into the safe, with the intention of locking him inside, Shelver said.

“Chellan moved away, hoping to throw the keys outside the window. The man, with his accomplices, then took off,” she said.

A teacher and another staff member were sent to the doctor for medical attention, she added.

Chellan said all staff would attend a debriefing session with the Safe Schools programme on Thursday.

“The whole thing happened in four or five minutes; he came into my office and had a gun in his hand, and said, ‘Give me the money’.”

Chellan would not disclose the amount taken, other than to say it was “substantial”.

“The staff are traumatised. I’m trying to motivate the teachers to be calm; they were quite shocked and these teachers must come back to the school. This has never happened here before.

“I went to a doctor yesterday. That was good. I was given something to sleep.”

While the department sent a psychologist and social worker to the school, they said a security audit of the school would be conducted.

Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said: “Circumstances surrounding a business robbery in Kensington are under investigation. No arrest has been made as yet.”

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Cape Times

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