Drop in burglary and vandalism incidents reported over the 2015 winter holiday period

By Minister Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Education:

School vandalism does not only come at a cost to the WCED, but to the learners and the community too. We are therefore very pleased that there has been a drop in incidents of vandalism reported over the winter holiday period compared to the same period last year. During the same holiday period in 2014, 23 incidents of burglary and vandalism were reported while 18 incidents were reported for the same period in 2015.

The total number of incidents has dropped by 42% compared to the same period in 2013, when schools reported 31 incidents.

I held a press conference during the second term pleading with communities to assist in the fight against vandalism. I sincerely hope that the drop in vandalism incidents is as a result of communities taking ownership of their local schools by reporting any suspicious behaviour in and around our schools to the police immediately. Schools are in fact a community asset.

In order to protect our schools as far as possible from burglary and vandalism over the holiday period, the WCED’s Safe Schools directorate arranges increased security at some of our high risk identified schools.

During the 2015 winter holiday period, 413 schools benefited either from 12 or 24 hour security and cluster patrols.

Unfortunately, despite these measures, some of our schools still fell victim to vandalism and burglaries during the school holiday.

During the July winter school holiday period 18 schools across the province reported minor incidents of vandalism and/or burglary with no major incidents being reported.

Of the 18 schools, the Cape Winelands District again reported the highest number of incidents in the Province, with 5 incidents of burglary and vandalism.

We received 3 reports each from the Metro Central, Metro East and Metro North Education Districts. Metro South District reported 2 incidents. The West Coast and Eden and Karoo Districts each reported 1 incident.

The Overberg District did not report any incidents.

All incidents were classified as minor. An incident is classified as minor if the estimated cost of repairs is below R100 000 and the schools ability to function is not impacted in any way.

The WCED is completing a cost analysis but so far, the cost for repairs for just over half of the schools has come in at around R250 000.

The department and schools could better spend these funds on improving the quality of education in schools. At the end of the day, vandalism represents theft from our learners.

The co-operation of the community is essential in order to combat learner vandalism and to create a safe school environment that promotes teaching and learning. 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 their schools this immediately to the Safe Schools Hotline – 0800 45 46 47 and to the SAPS.

One incident of vandalism is one incident too many. 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. Therefore, it is our policy to not announce the names).