Debbie Schäfer, MPP
Western Cape Minister of Education
In order to protect our schools, as far as possible, from burglary and vandalism over the holiday period, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) Safe Schools directorate arranged for increased security at some of our schools in communities identified as high risk. 495 schools received either 24 hour security or benefited from cluster patrols. Unfortunately, despite these measures, some of our schools still fall victim to vandalism and burglaries during the school holiday.
During the June/ July holiday period 23 schools across the province reported incidences of vandalism and/or burglary. This represents a decrease from 31 incidents reported for the same period last year.
Of the 23 schools, the Cape Winelands District reported 9 incidents of burglary and vandalism. We received 4 reports from the Metro Central District, 4 from the Metro South District and 2 reports from the Metro North District.
The WCED received one report of vandalism and burglary from each of the following districts; the Eden and Karoo District, Overberg District, West Coast and Metro East District.
Only 1 case has been classified as ‘major’, 21 cases have been classified as ‘minor’ and 1 case has been classified as ‘negligible’.
In most cases, perpetrators broke into the school bathrooms and vandalised the interiors. In other cases, computer labs, school offices and classrooms were broken into. Electronics were stolen and doors and gates damaged while trying to gain entry.
The WCED has received estimated costs of damages for 8 of the 23 schools. This amount is estimated to be approximately R400 000 so far.
School vandalism not only comes at a cost to the Education Department but to that of the learners and the community too.
It is important for communities to take ownership of the schools in their area and realise that they have an important role to play in protecting their community’s assets. We urge community members to be extra vigilant throughout the year and to immediately report any suspicious behavior or activities that occur within the vicinity of schools.
It is important that we, as communities, actively mobilise to look after schools, in conjunction with the police and community-based organisations.
Our safest schools are normally those in communities that support these schools, for example, via on-going surveillance and volunteer work at these schools.
Minister Schäfer would like to encourage communities with neighbourhood watches to include schools in their patrols and increase patrols during the school holidays.
We do however need to acknowledge the decline in reported incidents and for this, I would like to thank Safe Schools, Metro Police, SAPS and members of the community for their sustained efforts in assisting us in putting an end to vandalism and burglary in 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.