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Gauteng officials intend to beef up school security after Grade 10 pupil is killed at Geluksdal Secondary

Gauteng officials intend to beef up school security after Grade 10 pupil is killed at Geluksdal Secondary
Gauteng education officials plan to beef up security at schools, after a recent spate of violent and deadly incidents. (Photo: Gallo Images / The Times / Anton Scholtz)

Provincial education department officials are planning to tighten up security at schools, after a spate of violent incidents across the province.

Violence is on the rise at Gauteng schools – at least three incidents in the past week – prompting a plan by education officials to tackle security, while the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says the deadly spate points to poverty, inequality and racism.

In the latest incident, Grade 10 pupil Shawn Mphela (18) from Geluksdal Secondary School in Brakpan on the East Rand was allegedly stabbed on his way home after school last Thursday, following an earlier altercation during school hours.

The fight allegedly started with a confrontation over pepper spray, according to Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona.

“It is alleged that this fight emanated from three Grade 10 boy learners pepper-spraying other learners during schooling hours. Subsequently, about eight learners, including Mphela, confronted them about their behaviour and they stopped. However, it is alleged that the perpetrators emerged after school in the company of unknown persons… The group reportedly started a fight with the learners, stabbing them. Unfortunately, one of the learners passed away from a fatal stab wound. One learner allegedly escaped with minor injuries, while one of the alleged perpetrators was seriously injured.” 

The department has launched an investigation into Mphela’s death.

On Monday, the accused appeared briefly in the Tsakane Magistrates’ Court where the case was postponed to 15 February.  

Assault caught on video

A video of a Grade 10 boy assaulting a Grade 10 girl at Nic Diederichs High School in Krugersdorp has been making rounds on social media since 31 January 2023. 

Both are pupils at the school. The boy has since been suspended and is expected to appear at a school disciplinary hearing on 12 February.

Fatal shooting

In yet another incident, a teacher was stabbed at Kagiso Secondary School in Krugersdorp last Friday. 

Mabona said that reportedly a “lone man” got through the main gate when it was opened remotely for a car to drive in. 

“The patroller responsible for manning the gate tried to stop him but he did not cooperate and proceeded to the admin block and hysterically demanded to see the principal. He was told that the principal was in a meeting and therefore would not see him at that time. He allegedly drew a knife and stabbed a teacher in the hand. Subsequently, another teacher allegedly fatally shot him.”

The police were investigating.

These incidents have prompted a debate about school safety in the province, and raised questions about what education officials are doing about violence in schools.

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Mabona said Gauteng education officials have condemned the violent behaviour and are planning to tighten up security at schools, while psychosocial teams have been deployed to help the affected schools. They had visited the schools to verify the circumstances of the incidents. 

Read in Daily Maverick: “Reactive state and police measures to tackle school violence ‘not enough’ to protect pupils

Gauteng legislature Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe visited schools in Braamfischerville, Soweto, and Kagiso Secondary on Monday and Tuesday. 

Accompanied by SAPS members and Correctional Services officials, Mekgwe conducted random searches of pupils to ensure no weapons or illegal substances were brought onto the premises.

Poverty, inequality, racism

Cosatu in Gauteng too condemned the violence on and around school premises.

“These incidents display a clear picture of the state of safety on school premises. The economic state of the province, where poverty is at its highest, lack of safety and security within our schools, the high rate of inequality among the society as well as racism remain… the biggest challenges and require urgent attention by the government… [They] are believed to be the main contributors to the instability in the province,” the federation said.

“Cosatu Gauteng acknowledges the statement made by [Gauteng education MEC Matome] Chiloane. However, [it] is of the view that the promises made are not enough, as more learners and educators are prone to losing their lives within school premises as well as in their respective communities. We call for the Department of Basic Education to conduct further investigations on how and why occurrences such as drug use, bullying as well as the possession of deadly weapons within the school premises are possible. 

“We also recommend that safety and security measures are hardened within learning institutions to prevent more fatalities. The department should have engagements with its stakeholders to address this. We also encourage the adoption of SADTU’s ‘I’m a school fan campaign’ which is driven by deep concern over the increase in violence at and around schools.” DM


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