Pupils march for safety in schools

Equal Ed­u­ca­tion leads protest af­ter Masi­phumelele High pupil stabbed to death

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - SIYABONGA SESANT

A DAY af­ter a Grade 10 pupil at Masi­phumelele High School was stabbed to death by a group of gang­sters, hun­dreds of fel­low pupils from sev­eral schools across Cape Town flooded the streets to march for in­creased safety at their schools.

The protest ac­tion yes­ter­day was led by Equal Ed­u­ca­tion, which had ac­cused the pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment of “fail­ing to re­spond to ma­jor crises in school safety, san­i­ta­tion, and in­fra­struc­ture in gen­eral”.

It comes af­ter Equal Ed­u­ca­tion handed its so­cial au­dit on the state of safety and se­cu­rity and san­i­ta­tion in schools to se­nior de­part­ment of­fi­cials last month.

But dis­grun­tled pupils, who yes­ter­day caused traf­fic dis­rup­tions in Salt River, Mow- bray and in the Strand area, said the de­part­ment had seem­ingly ig­nored the re­port.

“The more they ig­nore the sit­u­a­tion in our schools, the more dire it be­comes,” said Equal Ed­u­ca­tion’s pro­vin­cial deputy head, Mase Ra­maru, who marched with the pupils.

“Ev­ery day we hear of learn­ers get­ting stabbed on their way to school or even in their class­rooms, so that’s why we have pupils from Than­dokhulu Se­condary School, Walmer Se­condary School and Salt River High, along with other schools in dif­fer­ent ar­eas, who have de­cided to shut down their schools and host a protest,” Ra­maru said.

A Grade 10 pupil at Masi­phumelele High died on Thurs­day af­ter be­ing stabbed sev­eral times in the chest by al­leged gang­sters. De­part­ment spokes­woman Mil­li­cent Mer­ton said the in­ci­dent took place out­side the school’s premises.

She said the school al­leged the 19-year-old pupil climbed over the school’s fence and was then at­tacked.

Po­lice spokesman Fred­er­ick van Wyk said a mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been launched.

Mean­while, Ra­maru also said they’d had no luck with Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Deb­bie Schäfer in ad­dress­ing safety in some schools.

“We have now asked Pre- mier He­len Zille to in­ter­vene. The learn­ers want the pre­mier to put pres­sure on the MEC to at­tend a pub­lic hear­ing for the so­cial au­dit we have con­ducted,” Ra­maru said.

The pub­lic hear­ings which had been sched­uled to take place on Fri­day last week also had to be can­celled af­ter Schäfer failed to con­firm whether or not she would at­tend.

“It’s part of her (Schäfer’s) job to at­tend the hear­ings,” Ra­maru said. “It’s her fault that learn­ers are forced to protest and em­bark on school shut­downs.”

Equal Ed­u­ca­tion said it had also writ­ten to pro­vin­cial po­lice com­mis­sioner Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Khom­binkosi Jula to be present dur­ing the pub­lic hear­ings.

In its list of 20 de­mands, which were part of the so­cial au­dit, the or­gan­i­sa­tion urged the Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment and po­lice to “co-or­di­nate ef­forts” to pri­ori­tise safety in schools.

It also called on the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment not to build bi­cy­cle lanes or dog parks in “rich ar­eas” un­til all schools in the prov­ince had proper safety and san­i­ta­tion in­fra­struc­ture.

The Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment said it would re­spond on Mon­day.

siyabonga.sesant@inl.co.za

Kraai­fontein pupils protest against what they say is the pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment’s fail­ure to guar­an­tee their safety at schools.

Khayelit­sha pupils join the city-wide protest ac­tion by pupils over schools safety, san­i­ta­tion and in­fra­struc­ture is­sues.

Pupils bring traf­fic to a stand­still in Mow­bray as they protest with Equal Ed­u­ca­tion mem­bers yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

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