Covid-19

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Lockdown: 22 Gauteng schools vandalised, robbed or torched 

Illustrative Image: Adam Wilson/Unsplash

A rash of vandalism has seen Gauteng schools running the gauntlet of thugs during the Covid-19 lockdown.

A total of 22 schools in Gauteng have been attacked so far during the national Covid-19 lockdown, with four torched in Soshanguve, Pretoria, in what the education department has described as being “suspected premeditated arson”. 

Items such as computers, printers, heaters and school nutrition groceries were stolen. In another instance, 250 school chairs were stolen from a school in Vanderbijlpark. 

Most of the crimes are concentrated in the Vaal region, which accounts for seven of the 22 schools that have been trashed.

“It must be noted that such incidents are normally experienced during school recess, as by nature schools are often soft targets,” said the Gauteng Department of Education in a statement. 

The National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB), said because of resource challenges, some schools have not implemented school safety committees, which leaves them susceptible to such crimes. 

“We are battling with making sure that the safety committees countrywide are working and these are supposed to be the backbone of safety in our schools. Though we have been encouraging our township schools to raise funds to support these structures, poorer communities are struggling to do so,” said General Secretary of NASGB, Matakanye Matakanye. 

The department has opened criminal cases for all the incidents and the police have arrested two suspects after one school in Sebokeng was broken into twice, seven days apart. 

In KwaZulu-Natal, Bambazi High School in Bergville was also set alight on 8 April 2020, according to a video shared by the spokesperson for the national Department of Education, Elijah Mhlanga. 

In Gauteng, the education department said they have not calculated the cost of the damage suffered as a result of these crimes, but “it must be emphasised that this will have a huge impact and affect the proper functioning of schools”. 

Matakanye said they will continue sending out a strong message through members to find ways to strengthen school safety. 

“We are asking every citizen in the country to remember that school premises are where the economy, social life, humanity and relationships are built so they must be respected. Let us not attack schools during this war,” said SADTU’s general secretary Mugwena Maluleke. 

Maluleke emphasised that communities need to play an active role during this time to ensure that when schools reopen, learners still have structures to go back to. 

Daily Maverick asked the Gauteng Department of Education’s spokesperson, Steve Mabona for more details about the incidents, but no response had been forthcoming. DM 

 

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