Three gunmen robbed staff and children at the Mustadafin Foundation’s learning centre in Tafelsig last week, says the non-profit organisation.
The men entered a classroom at 10.30am on Tuesday June 13 and held up the 43 children, a counsellor and three teachers. They rifled through the children’s bags before leaving with two cellphones worth R20 000, R1500 in cash and jewellery, according to the foundation’s director, Ghairunisa Johnstone-Cassiem.
One of the teachers who was in the classroom at the time said she had thought the men were policemen at first as they had been wearing blue clothing.
“I looked at the faces of the students and noticed how full of fear they were. I turned around and saw a man standing behind me with blue clothes on. He walked towards my bag and took my phone and money out of my wallet. I screamed at him to stop, but then the children screamed at me to just give everything and not to let him shoot me,” said the teacher, who did not want to be named.
The men had shoved the teachers and children to the back of the classroom after robbing them and had then left in a silver Toyota Etios, said Ms Johnstone-Cassiem.
They had reported the robbery to the police, she said.
“It’s terrible that these kinds of things are still happening in our community. It is terrifying that this happened at a place where our children and teachers are supposed to feel safe,” she said, adding that the incident had left the children and staff traumatised.
Mitchell’s Plain police failed to respond to repeated requests for comment.
Mustadafin Foundation works closely with poor communities in the Western Cape, and its learning centre in Tafelsig caters to children from disadvantaged backgrounds in that community.
“Many of the children introduced into the learning centre are already traumatised from challenging family backgrounds and ongoing community violence,” said Ms Johnstone-Cassiem.
“Everyone is very traumatised by the incident. To help the children and teachers to get through it, we have brought in a social worker to help. These are poverty-stricken children who are working really hard to improve their lives by using the learning centre. It’s sad that they may not feel safe here after the incident.”
Faiez Jacobs, the ANC Member of Parliament for the Greater Athlone constituency, said the robbery was “deplorable” because the Mustadafin Foundation served one of Cape Town’s poorest communities.
“We call for swift action to find the perpetrators and for the law to take its course,” he said.
The foundation is seeking donations, and other support, from the public to improve security at the learning centre. Call 021 633 0010 or Ms Johnstone-Cassiem at 082 300 6535 or visit mustadafin.org.za if you can help.