Gang crisis affects WC schools


The MEC for Education in the Western Cape, Debbie Schafer, said her department had as big a role to play as any, as that province battles with a crippling gang problem.

The Western Cape and National governments have, until now, not had a firm handle on the gang crisis in that province and nobody really agrees on what measures need to be taken to address it. National Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, for example, has already suggested the introduction of the army could be an option to try and curb violence.

However, not all of civil society believes that is the way to go, because soldiers ultimately know nothing about general police work. The sentiment is that option will actually present more risks for ordinary civilians.

Education is being affected by the violence and Schafer wants her department to do what it can to limit the impact. But she knows she can’t do it alone.

“Of late, my ongoing concern for our learners and educators within these communities has been at an all-time high,” said Schafer.

“While we are doing as much as we can as an education department to try and protect our schools, we simply do not have the legislative mandate, security manpower or budget to guarantee learner safety from gang violence,” added Schafer.

“Gang violence is depriving our children of their educational opportunities. Without proper education many of these children themselves then become involved in gang activities and continue on this destructive cycle of violence and disruption.

“When our learners themselves are members of gangs, this only heightens the possibility of violence within school grounds. Earlier this month, at a Delft school, a learner was stabbed by another learner in an alleged gang related incident in a turf war on the school grounds and corridors. This is shocking and unacceptable.”