Homba Primary School teachers and pupils had a nasty surprise when they returned from the Easter weekend to find the school had been burgled yet again.
This time the computer lab was cleaned out as thieves took 31 computers, an overhead projector, furniture, electrical tubing, plumbing and other items. This prompted the school community to march to Lingelethu police station on Friday April 26 to urge the police to help them.
The pupils, along with their teachers and parents, held their placards high in protest, calling for the police to act swiftly to arrest the criminals who are targeting the school.
School principal Samkelo Tukulula said the break-ins had been consistent over the past four years.
He said a total of three incidents a week is the norm at the school and the latest incident was discovered on Easter Monday while he was away in the Eastern Cape.
“This is shocking what happens to our school. It looks like the norm that every day we arrive at the school to a break-in. These break-ins always happen but this was really bad. We have not been cleaned out like this before. They took all the computers in the laboratory, went on to administration block and took the phones and other items. They used the roof to come in and get out.”
Mr Tukulula said it seems that people who broke in know the school very well and in all the incidents it appears as if they had a lot of time to execute their plan.
He said the purpose of marching to the police is to urge them to do their work properly.
He said in many incidents police were called in but came late or not at all and there has never been an outcome in any of the cases.
“It is not that we do not inform police. They have our cases but what do they do, nothing. In some instances they do not come at all. We believe police have a duty to do here. In 2016 we had a gun pointed right at the school but that case was never concluded until today,” he said.
Vukani visited the school before the march and were shown the affected classes and the computer laboratory. Most classes had broken windows and big holes in the roof. The ceiling had been ripped open.
Parent Nozibele Masiko said as parents they are tired of seeing their school being broken into.
She said there is also a new trend where children’s food is taken away from them by criminals.
She also accused police of not caring about them. “We are tired of crime in our area. But the break-ins at school are out of hand. All we ask for is police to work with us. They need to respect the community and their work,” she said.
Station commander at the Lingelethu police station Colonel Fana Dlamini confirmed the incidents but pointed a finger back at the community.
Colonel Dlamini said it was painful to see children protesting when they were supposed to be in class.
He said leaders should have made a point to meet with police to work out a plan to combat the robberies and break-ins. “The community should be the ones who protect the school. Police also seek help from the community. But having said that all your concerns have been taken care of. But I must say that the community has failed the children.”
Colonel Dlamini also lambasted the community for having old people as caretakers at the school.
He said there were items that were at the police station but the caretakers failed to identify the correct ones.
However, he promised that they would investigate the accusations against police and the crimes reported. The march dispersed peacefully with children going back to school.