Pupils march for safety in schools
Equal Education leads protest after Masiphumelele High pupil stabbed to death
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.
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.