Teachers demand safer schools in Khayelitsha

Protesters vowed to shut down schools if premier does not meet their demands

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Photo of teachers gathering.
COSAS provincial chairman, Mphumzi Giwu, speaking to teachers and Premier Helen Zille on Monday. Teachers are demanding safer schools in Khayelitsha. Photo: Vincent Lali

Dozens of Khayelitsha teachers gathered in Cape Town’s city centre on Monday to demand that their schools be made safer.

The group handed over a memorandum to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille near the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town. They have asked that steps be taken to prevent learners and teachers from becoming targets for criminals. Zille was given seven days to respond to their demands.

A senior teacher from Mangaliso Primary School in Site B, Khayelitsha, told GroundUp that on 16 May 2018, three assailants robbed staff at gunpoint.

“Around 3pm they barged into the staff room and robbed us of computers, money and tablets. They fired a shot at the floor to show that they were not carrying toy guns. We were scared shitless,” she said.

The teacher, who has asked not to be named, said that two weeks ago, “gun-wielding thugs” locked up cooks in a house close to the school and demanded that they hand them keys to the school. “The school employees were terrified,” she said.

Congress of South African Students (COSAS) provincial chairman, Mphumzi Giwu, said that when incidents are reported to police, people are told that police vans are not available.

He suggested that CCTV cameras be installed at schools in Khayelitsha. “We want cameras in Khayelitsha schools because they are already available at white schools in the suburbs,” he said.

Giwu warned Zille that they would “shut down schools in Khayelitsha” if their demands are not answered.

Jackson Bhoso, a member of Khayelitsha’s crime task team, said teachers were scared to go to work because of escalating crime in the area. He said Mangaliso Primary, Sangweni High and Lwandle Primary were among the schools hit hardest by criminals.

Bhoso said parents had to accompany learners to school and as a result arrived late at work.

After signing the memorandum, Zille was prevented from addressing the group. Responding to questions by GroundUp, Zille’s spokesperson Marcelino Martin said they were not aware of the march. He said Zille agreed to meet the teachers because safety at schools was a shared concern.

“It is important to note that safety in general is a function of the South African Police Service, which is the mandate of national government,” she said.

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