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Friday, July 30, 2021

Western Cape Education Department offers reward after spate of school robberies

Jan Bornman

The Western Cape government has condemned attacks on schools following four separate armed robberies at schools across the province.

MEC for education Debbie Schäfer said the attacks were timed to take place just after the school day had ended, with pupils and educators still participating in after-school activities and meetings.

“Educators and staff were threatened at gunpoint and were robbed of personal items. School ICT equipment was stolen and, in one case, a vehicle was hijacked on the premises,” Schäfer said.

“I am just extremely grateful that no learner or educator has been fatally harmed during these attacks.”

The first incident occurred at Ummangaliso Primary School in Khayelitsha, followed by attacks at Intshayalelo and Lwandle primary schools in Lingelethu West, and at Vukukhanye Primary in Gugulethu.

Schäfer said staff had been left traumatised and in fear for their safety.

“I do not blame them,” she said.

R10 000 reward

“It is not yet certain if the attacks are related but there is a clear indication that our schools are being targeted for specific reasons and at a certain time of the day.”

She said the criminals needed to be stopped before another attack took place and offered a R10 000 reward for information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of the criminals.

Schäfer said she had engaged with other structures in the province, including the City of Cape Town’s special investigations unit to track down the perpetrators.

“The WCED (Western Cape education department) is not a security agency and we cannot investigate and make arrests ourselves – but we are determined to do what we can to assist in securing convictions to prevent similar attacks on our schools.

“We have been left with no choice. The safety of our educators and learners is a priority to us, but we cannot always protect our schools when it comes to armed attacks of this nature,” she said.

Gauteng schools robberies

“I want these criminals to also know that we are looking for them. We will not put up with this blatant show of violence against our learners and their teachers.”

There had also been a number of robberies and thefts at schools in Gauteng in recent months.

News24 reported earlier this year that Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was left devastated after the latest break-in at a school in the province.

“We are under siege. How can criminals be allowed to target our schools in this manner?” he was quoted as saying.- News24

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