Holiday Vandalism – Thieves are not welcome anywhere near our schools

Minister of Education Donald Grant

Western Cape Government

In the September school holidays ten schools, in the Western Cape, reported incidents of burglary and/or vandalism.

Of the ten schools, four are in the Cape Winelands District, three in Metro Central, two in Metro East and one in the Overberg.

I am relieved that all the reported incidents were minor. In two of the cases, nothing was stolen, but it was evident that someone had gained entry into the school.

I am, however, never pleased to hear of any incident of burglary and vandalism in our schools.

The theft of school possessions and damage to school property is costly for the WCED.

Last year, this Department paid out over R7 million in repairs to schools affected by burglary and vandalism – money that could have been used to improve the quality of education in our schools.

For instance, R7 million could provide over 140 000 additional graded readers each year in primary schools, or could employ an additional 21 educators in our schools.

We have yet to receive the total estimated costs for damages incurred in the latest September school holiday. I am hopeful, given the nature of the reported damages that this will be reasonably low.

The perpetrators mainly targeted copper piping and electrical cabling, and in some cases, equipment such as computers, DVD players and sports gear.

In one case, in the Overberg, a school’s feeding scheme storage room was targeted. The thieves reportedly stole 20 bags of rice, 18 cans of fish and 3 bags of beans.

I find it very disturbing that people are prepared to steal children’s food. In fact, it is disturbing to think anyone would steal anything from a school.

While the Department has, over the years, increased security measures at schools, wherever possible, each school holiday a small number of schools are still victim to incidents of burglary and vandalism.

Our communities, however, have the most important 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.

I will continue to appeal to communities to be our eyes and ears and report any suspicious behavior in and around our schools immediately to the local police. We are grateful for the communities which have taken ownership of our public schools.

It is time for us all to stand up to vandals and thieves and to let them know that they are not welcome anywhere near our schools.

(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.