Demand for action

Premier Helen Zille's spokesperson, Michael Mpofu, accepts a memorandum from Chumani Sali of the Social Justice Coalition.

Advocacy groups Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and Equal Education (EE) marched to Premier Helen Zille’s office on Thursday August 25, demanding the implementation of some of the recommendations made by the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into police inefficiencies.

About 250 residents from Nyanga, Philippi, Gugulethu, Kraaifontein and Khayelitsha, including people living with disabilities, marched to demand better police services. They also called for the establishment of a task team to address gangsterism in schools within six months. The activists say the task team was supposed to consider problems such as weapons at schools and protect pupils when they travel to school.

SJC general secretary, Phumeza Mlungwana, said the commission had specifically instructed the provincial Department of Community Safety and the national Department of Basic Education to ensure that the task team had been established.

She accused the provincial government of failing to establish the task team and taking black people’s lives for granted.

“We demand the implementation of Section 12 of the recommendations to ensure a safe learning environment in our schools,” said Ms Mlungwana.

“Two years later we are marching to the same building where the premier had released the findings of the commission. All we ask for is that our brothers and sisters attend schools that are safe just like (the ones attended by) their (Ms Zille) children.”

EE provincial spokesperson Nishal Robb said they were concerned about the safety of pupils at schools and felt obligated to be part of the march. He said they discovered that access control to schools had been one of the challenges they had identified when they did their own school social audit.

“From September to November last year Equal Education and partner organisations audited the safety and sanitation conditions of 244 schools in the Western Cape. This process included surveys of 912 pupils, visible confirmation of conditions, and interviews with school administrators as well as extensive reviews of the existing literature and data request from government institutions.

“We discovered that in our social audit report many pupils were feeling unsafe in schools and gang fights were occurring inside the school,” he said.

Khayelitsha resident Khangelani Sebethwa said they felt that the government was ignoring the recommendations.

“In Bulumko Secondary School, a pupil was stabbed multiple times, and yet the government is dragging its feet implementing the task team. If this had occurred in the white suburbs it would have been a different story,” he said. Michael Mpofu, spokesperson for Ms Zille, said out of 20 of the recommendations, 13 directly fell within SAPS’ mandate and the rest with the provincial government. “These are to be implemented in partnership with SAPS, several other departments, and the City of Cape Town. We still do not have a signed Memorandum of Agreement between our Community Safety Department and national SAPS, despite escalating this matter all the way up to the President’s Co-ordinating Council,” he said.