Primary school teachers held at gun-point

Parents picketed outside Nomsa Mapongwana Primary ,demanding improved safety measures at the school.

More than 20 cellphones belonging to teachers at Nomsa Mapongwana Primary School in Makhaya, Khayelitsha, were stolen when two armed men entered the school premises last Thursday and held them at gun-point.

The criminals entered the school just after 3pm when pupils had already gone home.

It is believed that the men pretended to be looking for a certain teacher at the school. They entered through the main gate and the caretaker took them to the reception area.

The men then proceeded to the staff room where teachers were having a meeting.

The teachers were ordered to hand over their belongings and to lie down on the ground.

The thieves took the cellphones and four laptops, as well as wallets and bags, before fleeing through the back gate where a getaway car was waiting for them.

It is alleged that they fired one shot towards a vehicle that attempted to chase them as they left the school. When Vukani visited the school on Monday, residents and a representative from Equal Education were picketing outside the school premises, demanding improved safety measures.

School governing body treasurer, Nkululeko Ntetha, said it was the first time that the school had been robbed. However, there have been constant break-ins over the years.

He believes the robbery was well planned and was committed by people who knew the school’s premises. He said the school has security personnel but they only guard the premises at night.

Mr Ntetha said the poor reaction of the officials from the department of education was disappointing. He said the department was informed about the incident immediately after it took place but did not act quickly and gave a vague response.

He said the teachers were traumatised and were unable to perform their duties the following day and the principal, who was also there when the robbery took place, had to counsel the teachers himself. Mr Ntetha said according to their assessment, the school needs new and upgraded fencing.

He said for years they had made numerous requests to the department of education to implement safety measures at the school.

He said access control at the main gate was only recently implemented, but that was not enough.

“We want to see police being more visible. We want to see cameras implemented at the school. These teachers should feel safe at schools. We want to see change in our communities. If these teachers do not feel safe in our schools who is going to teach our children,” he said.

Mr Ntetha said in the past schools used to be one of the safest places in the community and teachers were among the most respected people. However, said Mr Ntetha, things have taken a horrible difficult turn. Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson, Bronagh Hammond, said they will discuss security measures with the school but the school has not reported any incidents of burglary or vandalism this year to their call centre.

“Our interventions are based on these statistics and it is the duty of the school management to ensure that all incidents are reported. However, they have not reported any this year.

“This incident adds to our ongoing concerns regarding burglary and vandalism incidents at schools. Our schools need to be protected and remain untouchable from all criminal elements.”

Equal Education provincial head, Nontsikelelo Dlulani, said the organisation has been for years campaigning about safety at schools, particular those in the township.

Ms Dlulani said what was shocking was the fact that there were no CCTV cameras at school and no trained security guards at the gate.

Ms Ndlulani said the department should work with other stakeholders in improving school safety and create inter-departmental relationships.

But she said police should be more visible in the schools.

She said it was shocking that counselling had not been provided to the teachers and the officials were only arriving four days after the incident had taken place.

Harare police station spokesperson, Captain Siyabulela Vukubi, confirmed the incident and highlighted that a case of robbery had been filed at the station. He said no arrests had been made and police are still investigating.