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‘Alarming’ rise in school violence in Province


“It saddens us that this is the type of behaviour displayed by pupils towards one another and showcases the level of ill-discipline that prevails on our school premises"

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CONCERN has been raised about the “alarming” increase in violence at Northern Cape schools.

The Northern Cape Department of Education (NCDOE) said that the Province recently witnessed three incidents of violence among pupils at schools in just a week.

These incidents, two involving knives and one a fist fight between girls, occurred at Carlton van Heerden High School, Phakane High School and De Aar High School.

NCDOE spokesperson, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said that while the injuries inflicted during the incidents were not fatal, it could, however, “have been much worse”.

He added that disciplinary processes and investigations were already under way at the three schools.

“It saddens us that this is the type of behaviour displayed by pupils towards one another and showcases the level of ill-discipline that prevails on our school premises.

“Incidents of this nature impact directly and indirectly on the emotional well-being of our pupils, especially at a time when pupils are busy with tests and preliminary examinations. It also impacts on the valuable learning and teaching time, as schooling is disrupted when these incidents occur.

“In most cases, the incidents are gang related, which shows the type of activities pupils are involved in outside the school premises in our communities. This places much greater emphasis on the roles and responsibilities of parents, to know their child’s whereabouts, provide guidance and parental support to their children and educate them to become law abiding citizens of our country.”

Van der Merwe further issued “a stern warning” to all pupils and parents in the Northern Cape.

“We won’t tolerate any form of ill-discipline and criminal behaviour on our school premises. Pupils who are found guilty of this type of behaviour will be subjected to due disciplinary processes and, if need be, will be expelled from the school.”

He added that in order to change the current situation and to prevent schools from becoming war zones, greater co-operation between the department, schools, parents and the community was needed.

“We will, however, do what is necessary and within our control to ensure the safety of all pupils and educators. Although we have a standing partnership with the SAPS to conduct random searches at schools, it is unrealistic to expect police officials to be deployed and stationed at schools.

“The NCDOE alone cannot fulfil the responsibility of parents to instil good values, discipline and respect in pupils. Our homes are the first institution of learning, where moral values should be taught to ensure that pupils come to school with good intentions to learn.

“We will not allow any pupil to deprive a fellow pupil of their right to education. It is time that we take collective responsibility for our children’s education. We must ensure that pupils and educators go to school without fearing for their lives,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the DA in the Province called on the SAPS and the Department of Education to collaborate to better prevent violence at schools in the Northern Cape.

“In the Northern Cape there was a near fatal stabbing inside a classroom at High School Carlton Van Heerden in Upington last week, when two pupils went at each other with knives. In July this year, a 17-year old pupil at Makgolokwe Middle School at Batlharos Village was shot dead. Meanwhile, in January of this year, a teacher from Bosele Middle School was stabbed to death at his house by a pupil who accused the teacher of failing him,” DA spokesperson, Safiya Stanfley, said.

She added that the DA had called on Northern Cape Police Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Risimati Shivuri, to take a proactive stance towards school violence and assign adequate police patrols to schools that have become crime hot spots in the Northern Cape.

“We want the SAPS and the Education Department to take hands to urgently identify problem schools. We further call on MEC Martha Bartlett to ensure that problem pupils are identified, especially those who display early signs of anger. Proactive interventions through counselling must be made available, as must counselling for traumatised teachers,” Stanfley concluded.