By Athol Trollip (MPL), Eastern Cape Provincial Leader:
The DA condemns acts of violence by police and criminal elements who exploited today’s protests and which have led to serious injuries among learners and parents in the Port Elizabeth northern areas.
The Police have reacted with violent force against a community that is expressing its deep and profound desperation for the state of education North of Port Elizabeth.
For a parent to interrupt and obstruct their child’s education is a last act of desperation, to achieve a better future.
The fact is that schools in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth have been notoriously neglected, and parents cannot tolerate this affront to their children any longer.
These schools are dangerous places, where gangsters and criminals prey on children because school safety is utterly ignored. The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Police continue to be nothing more than a pipe-dream, while its so-called commanding officer draws a huge salary without a single officer on the beat.
If the NMB Metro Police was fully functional, schools in the northern areas could be much safer places. Where the DA governs in the City of Cape Town, dedicated Metro Police Officers are deployed to less-safe schools to protect children in harms’ way. The same could be true in Port Elizabeth if the Metro got its act together and made the Metro Police a reality.
Under-development in the northern areas is a direct result of the Metro’s budgets for the area being appallingly low. The DA rejects the notion that PE’s northern areas deserve just 5, 9% of the entire Metro budget when they are so in need of development.
While school learners are unsafe they are also being undereducated – teacher numbers at Port Elizabeth northern areas schools are disastrously low and the Province of the Eastern Cape has broken its promises to fill vacancies.
Frustration and desperation are understandable in these circumstances. Violence by protesters is condemned, but the message of these parents must be taken seriously: safer and better schools in the northern areas are an immediate necessity.
The DA implores the Eastern Cape Education Department to bring time-bound commitments to the area tomorrow, and to stick to its promises once and for all.