Minister of Education Donald Grant
I am pleased to note that the incidents of burglary and vandalism over the autumn school holidays declined compared to the figures for last year.
There were only five incidents of burglary and vandalism reported to the WCED during this period.
In the same period in 2012, fourteen incidents were reported.
While I am delighted that there has been a decrease in burglary and vandalism in our schools, one case is still one case too many.
Every time a tap is broken, a ceiling damaged or equipment stolen – it affects the learner.
Money spent on repairs or the replacement of equipment could be spent on other items that could improve the quality of our schools or the learning environment. Therefore, it angers me when I learn of incidents of burglary or vandalism in our schools.
In many cases, the perpetrators are from the same community in which the schools are situated. They are essentially stealing from their neighbors’ children.
Last year, this Department paid out over R7 million in repairs to schools affected by burglary and vandalism – money that could have been used elsewhere.
This excludes the money we have spent on repairing and replacing fencing that has also been stolen and damaged.
The WCED has yet to determine the estimated costs of the damages incurred in these latest five incidents. Although the five incidents are regarded as minor, there will certainly be costs involved.
At a school in Metro Central, a fire was started in the corridor of one of the classroom blocks. This damaged the corridor ceiling and classroom windows and doors. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined. In two of the schools, the toilets were the target, while one school reported electrical cable theft and another, the theft of copper piping.
At a school in the Cape Winelands District, the sprinklers and data projector were stolen.
I am extremely annoyed and angered to hear that at another school in the Cape Winelands, 9 windows were damaged due to “community members” throwing stones at the school. This kind of senseless behavior and vandalism is totally unacceptable.
In all circumstances, our schools should be appreciated and valued for the role they play in all communities – providing opportunities for our youth. They should not be damaged and destroyed for selfish profit or for entertainment.
Again, I appeal to communities to be our eyes and ears and report any suspicious behavior in and around our schools. They also have a role to play in protecting their community’s assets and I believe we can further reduce vandalism in our schools if we, together, take pride in these institutions and respect the role they play in their community’s future growth.
(Please note: The WCED does not identify the names of schools that have been affected by burglary and vandalism. In many cases, the damages caused by the perpetrators can result in a security threat or breach. Therefore, it is our policy to not announce the names, unless being approached with a specific school request.)