The scourge of gangsterism, which has long plagued high schools in Alexandra in northern Joburg, is now affecting primary schools.
Two weeks ago, a gang from other schools, armed with an assortment of weapons, descended on Ikage Primary on 19th Avenue.
A teacher said that there were no role models in the area and that gangsterism started in the community.
He also blamed parents, saying they have no time to talk about the challenges of life with their children.
“If you check, these groups are clashing in the community and are spreading to schools. And as teachers, we found ourselves involved because we can’t just sit and watch. We are trying to intervene because we want to see children being safe in and out of the school premises and at the end we become vulnerable because we can get caught in the crossfire,” he said.
He asked parents, police and the government to be more involved in fighting gangsterism in the community and in schools.
“All the stakeholders should come forward and help in fighting against this, especially parents because they don’t take their children’s future seriously. Sometimes we invite them to come and check their children’s progress, but they don’t come. This shows they don’t have time for their children.”
A gangster involved in the brawl, Morongwa Bapela, a member of TCK group, said they were fighting over a song. He claimed rival groups, MCV and CRC, were accusing them of insulting them over their song.
“They were accusing us of producing a song about them. We are a pantsula dancing group. They came here with sjamboks to fight me,” said a boy who is in Grade 7.
A Grade 6 pupil, Lehlohonolo Molefe, has witnessed the fight between the three groups.
“Even on Monday they were fighting again and this is hard for me because they are all my friends. But I can’t tell why are they fighting. I tried to intervene but they don’t want to listen to me. So I have given up on them, they can continue with their fight,” he said.
The situation forced Koketso Monubi to take her son to a boarding school for the academic year.
“I am shocked that gangsterism is happening in this school. So I decided to take my child to the boarding school because this is his last year in primary and he is also starting to misbehave. I can even see he got bad friends who are smoking and drinking. So I think boarding school would be the best solution for him,” said the 28-year-old mother.
Another parent, who introduced herself as Nandipha, said she was afraid for her two children who are in grades 6 and 3.
“The reason I am afraid that they may be involved is because I am always talking to them about this challenge, but you will never know how they behave on the streets. As a parent, you will think your children are behaving while at home but only to find they are not when they are on the streets,” she said.
Alexandra police spokesperson Captain Stephen Malatji said: “What we know is that a group of pupils from another school attacked some boys at Ikage, but the police have dealt with the situation. They were just trying something stupid,” said Malatji.
Asked if gangsterism was rife in Alexandra, Malatji said: “Not gangsters, but there were individual criminals pouncing at any opportunity.”
Gauteng Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department was “deeply concerned” about gangsterism in schools, adding that officials were willing to investigate if the matter was brought to their attention.
“We strongly condemn any acts of learner misconduct, which seeks to undermine the dignity of both learners and educators.
“The department has identified learner discipline as one of the priorities. The department wants cases such as school based violence, gangsterism, drug abuse, cyber bullying and other related serious misdemeanours to be expedited, as well as ensure that the department is proactive in identifying preventative strategies to eliminate these social ills from the school environment,” said Mabona.
The Sunday Independent travelled around the area which is a notorious hot spot for crime.
Young boys were smoking on street corners, and some adults idled * the streets because of the high unemployment levels in Alexandra.