Cape Town - The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has confirmed that attacks and murders of teachers on school grounds in the past five years have decreased, with just one fatal incident, while the killings of two staff both on and off the premises remain unsolved.
This week, Captain Frederick van Wyk of the SAPS confirmed that the murders of Zuraya Barden and Thulani Manqoyi remained cold cases.
“The matters you are referring to are still ongoing. There are no new developments and no arrests have been made yet,” he said.
“We appeal to anyone with any information that can help with the investigation to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.”
Barden's murder made headlines in April 2022 when she was shot and killed in her car in Kunene Street, Manenberg, while her 6-yea-rold grandson was present and left unharmed. Barden was the Primrose Park Primary School secretary at the time of the murder.
The reported at the time of the murder that Barden had been a key state witness in a case.
On the morning of September 21, 2021, Grade 6 teacher Manqoyi sat reading inside his vehicle in the parking area of Heinz Park Primary School when gunmen ambushed him.
According to Bronagh Hammond of the WCED, there has been only one fatality on school grounds in the past five years and that since 2019, six serious cases were reported, including an assault, robbery or attempted hijacking.
Hammond said there was a decline in attacks: “According to our Safe Schools records, there has been one fatal attack on an educator in school in the past five years. This was in 2021.
“In 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023, we recorded two serious cases in schools, and in 2020, three cases. Thankfully, these cases were not fatal.
“The numbers have reduced from previous years, with 10 cases in 2016, nine in 2017 and six in 2018.
“Attacks are generally linked to cases of attempted robbery – either attempted hijacking or attempted robbery of goods (handbags/cellphones) in classrooms.
“Perpetrators gain access either when persons are entering or leaving the premises, or by scaling the school fence. Current fencing projects do take into consideration the height of the fence, and its contribution to safety measures when constructed.”
In 2022, the WCED revealed there were 33 serious attacks on teaching staff on school grounds, with one fatality in seven years.
Hammond added that safety protocols were in place.
“Schools do have access control measures. However, as with any ordinary household, these measures can be compromised when the gate opens when a vehicle enters or leaves,” she said.
“Ultimately, our communities should be safe spaces and therefore, the role of law enforcement within that community is important to deter such crime.”
Risuna Nkuna of the South African Council for Educators said policies were put in place to educate teachers on their safety.
“The investigation is in the hands of the police, but teachers are equipped with a teachers' handbook on what to do when they are attacked and protocols to be followed,” Nkuna added.
Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety Reagen Allen called for a breakthrough in the cases: “The delay in these and similar cases is always regrettable.
“The longer cases such as these take, the more families and loved ones suffer further emotional distress as they're unable to find closure. I urge SAPS to continuously engage the families, so that they are not left in limbo.
“I also encourage community members who might have information on these cases to make it available to all law enforcement agencies, as we need the perpetrators behind bars.
“We cannot have murderers who have no regard for life anywhere in our communities.”