More security needed

Families of the Lentegeur High School pupils who were stabbed at the school on Wednesday February 1 (“Pupil arrested for stabbings”, Plainsman, February 8) are still reeling in shock and disbelief that a fellow pupil had a knife on the school’s premises.

The parents of the oldest pupil and last to be discharged from hospital wrote a letter to the Plainsman asking why there was no security on the scene.

“I think it’s unfair and traumatising for all families involved in this incident that social media and news are saying it is ‘gang related’,” read the letter.

The parent said last September they had asked the school to look into the matter pertaining to an incident at the school involving their son and the accused in the stabbing case. At the time the accused in the matter also had a knife.

There were no external parties or gang members involved, he said. “It was not an outside gang that came to disrupt the school,” he said.

The parent wrote: “My main concern is the school taking responsibility for their negligence, because something had happened in the past, last year, and nothing was done.

“It almost cost the school three lives.”

The Plainsman sent the email to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), which said there are two community members, both linked to the local neighbourhood watch, on duty at the school during school hours every day.

Millicent Merton, department spokesperson, said principal Abubakr Frieslaar had indicated that searches done last year were done randomly and were conducted by teachers.

No searches were done in conjunction with the South African Police Service. Ms Merton said no searches were done this year.

“Details around items confiscated cannot be commented on as this would negatively impact on operations aimed at improving the situation,” she said.

Regarding the altercation last year, Ms Merton said both pupils received sanctions, including serving community service at the school and to complete anger management programmes.

Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith, spokesperson for Lentegeur police station, said they do regular searches in the precinct on request from schools and school governing bodies.

She said such requests should be sent to Sergeant Richard Smith, social crime prevention officer, at the police station.

“Parents and school children should be informed that periodic searches will be conducted on a regular basis without prior warning,” she said.

Warrant Officer Kleinsmith added: “A school cannot be a safe place if there are weapons and drugs on the property and being in possession of such items, you are violating the right of others and you can be prosecuted.”

She listed knives, lighters, cigarettes and dagga as confiscated items at schools.

Warrant Officer Kleinsmith confirmed that the 18-year-old pupil accused of stabbing three fellow pupils faces two charges of assault with the intention of causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) and was due back in Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court on Monday February 27.

She said because he has not been accused or convicted of a previous offence, he was released on free bail. Warrant Officer Kleinsmith said he was also cautioned not to make contact with the alleged victims.

None of the pupils involved are back at school yet.