Principals describe hardships of running schools in Khayelitsha

| Adam Armstrong
Madoda Mahlutshana, Principal of Chris Hani School, testified about crime in schools. Photo by Adam Armstrong.

Principals of two Khayelitsha schools gave testimony at the Khayelitsha Commission yesterday. They explained how crime affected their institutions.

Madoda Mahlutshana is the Principal of Chris Hani High School in Makhaza, Khayelitsha. He spoke of the hardship the school faces on a continuous basis. Theft and damage of school property are frequent occurrences. Learners often bring knives, pangas, hammers and other weapons to school.

When there has been fighting at the school between youth gangs, the police have not responded promptly, he testified. In some instances SAPS officials said that they cannot attend to a crime because they do not have a car or sufficient people. Worryingly, Mahlutshana went on to say that compared to other schools in Khayelitsha, Chris Hani’s gang violence problem is not “that bad”.

During cross-examination, SAPS legal counsel asked about the school’s stance on vigilante justice. To which Mr Mahlutshana responded that when they have apprehended criminals they have not been beaten, but handed over to SAPS for arrest.

There was a light moment when Mahlutshana described how a boy had been selling ‘ganga’ (dagga) muffins at the school. Evidence leader Adv. Sidaki smiled and playfully asked, “What happened to the muffins?”

Evidence leader, Adv. Sidaki.

Xolela Majonondwana has been the principal of Zola Secondary for 16 years. The school is located between Site C and Mandalay. It has roughly 800 learners. There were seven burglaries between March and July in 2012, but no convictions for any of them. Majonondwana testified that the investigating officers did not seem interested in following up properly on evidence. He explained that in response to the spate of burglaries, he hired three community members to work as security guards at the school during the night. On one evening, the three apprehended a suspect at 1am. The police only arrived at 8am.

“It is not just about management, but about leadership … there seems to be a lack of leadership in SAPS.”

Majonondwana said about the police, “It is not just about management, but about leadership … there seems to be a lack of leadership in SAPS.”

A recurrent theme throughout the Commission has been testimony that describes SAPS as incompetent and untrusted. It appears that many crimes reported by Khayelitsha residents have been badly investigated and that communication from police stations is poor.

TOPICS:  Crime Education Human Rights Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into Policing National Provincial

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