Schools caught in crossfire

Parents escort pupils from Alpine Primary School after teachers convened an emergency meeting about gangsters entering the premises yesterday morning.

Mitchell’s Plain schools have been caught in gang crossfire and violence for the past week with an alleged gang boss gunned down in front of his children’s primary school and a teacher threatened with rape last week and two pupils stabbed this week.

Local police are investigating a stabbing incident at Lentegeur High School on Monday February 11 in which four pupils were involved. Two pupils were seriously injured and received medical treatment.

They were both stable, with one pupil released hours after the stabbing and the other pupil, with a head and neck injury, due to be released yesterday, Tuesday February 12.

Bronagh Hammond, spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), said the stab victims were in Grade 10 and 11, and both are 16 years old.

The two perpetrators were in Grade 9 and Grade 11, also aged 16.

Ms Hammond said the incident happened just before school started on the school grounds.

“Emergency security was arranged and SAPS were on the scene. Counselling has been offered to both teachers and pupils,” she said.

Ms Hammond said department officials were at the school to assist the school in stabilising the environment.

“The incident is of great concern to the WCED and the school community,” she said.

Hours after this incident on Monday, the Plainsman received a call from a teacher at Alpine Primary School, in Beacon Valley, who said gangsters came on to the school premises on Friday February 8. The school is not enclosed with a fence.

She said her colleague was told by a gangster: “Ek smaak om ‘* teacher te rape”. Weapons were also found on the school premises.

She said the school had been struggling for at least two years to have the premises enclosed.

Yesterday, Tuesday February 12, parents, teachers, pupils, community organisations and SAPS were called to an emergency meeting at the school.

Parents said they are doing as much as they can to assist the teachers.

“Our children are not safe,” said one parent.

When the meeting adjourned, some parents left with their children while others stayed behind to help out.

“We need to stand together with our teachers and help where we can to keep our children safe. If they go home they will not learn anything,”said another parent.

Oscar Lyon, a member of Gatvol Capetonians, who was also at the meeting on Tuesday, said it is time the community stand up “because we can’t do this anymore.”

Millicent Merton, spokesperson for the WCED, said the school would receive emergency security. The school was also placed on the infrastructure priority list for new fencing in the 2019/20 financial year.

These incidents followed a gang-related shooting near Hyacinth Primary School in Lentegeur on Monday February 4 in which three men, standing in Marguerite Street, were shot and killed by four men on foot and the killing of an alleged gang boss in front of Woodville Primary School in Woodlands on Wednesday February 6 as he was dropping of his children at school.

Captain Ian Williams, Mitchell’s Plain police station spokesman, said Trevor Markgraaf, also known as Kapokkie, was dropping off his children when he was approached by two armed men on foot.

The hitmen shot him in the face and neck. He died on the scene.

Police recovered eleven cartridge casings at the scene.

Captain Williams said the motive was possibly gang-related as the deceased was an active gang member.

No one has been arrested. A case of murder is being investigated.

The four men involved in the Marguerite Street shooting have, however, been subsequently arrested by the SAPS Anti-Gang Unit and have appeared in the Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court (“Four arrested for shooting”, Plainsman, February 6).

Ms Merton said the department makes counselling available for pupils who witnessed or were affected by incidents of violence, should it be required.

The WCED has a variety of programmes and initiatives in place to assist schools and especially pupils, in dealing with conflict management as well as ensuring heightened safety at schools.

The behavioural programmes include conflict management; substance abuse and anti-gangsterism strategies; anti-bullying programmes; early identification of youth that are at risk; counselling and psychological support programmes; and a values programme.

Last year the WCED identified “The Year of Values-Driven learning” as a theme for 2018, saying pupils need to be taught from a young age what the values are that they should demonstrate towards their educators, as well as their peers.

The theme focused on six values: caring, competence, accountability, integrity, innovation and responsiveness and schools were asked to identify values that symbolised and characterised the values that they want to espouse and then to showcase these values in various ways.