The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) have confiscated a box of contraband and weapons from learners at a Mitchells Plain school.
Members of the police conducted a search and seizure operation at Woodlands Secondary School on Thursday morning.
The WCED says the operation was conducted after reports of an increase in drugs and weapons in the school.
Learners of Woodlands Secondary School had their hands on their desks and school bags open while officers searched through their belongings.
Police found items including knives, screwdrivers, dagga and cigarettes on learners in various grades at the school.
Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer says she is concerned about learners entering the school premises with weapons.
She says they chose to do the random search at the school because there are frequent instances of violence and drug abuse.
“We worked together with our Community Safety Department and SAPS. We have a number of interventions, as the Education Department, but other role players in the community also need to assist us.”
In a statement, the provincial education department said the majority of incidents reported were off school premises and within the community affected, but that gang violence can spill over into schools when learners were directly involved.
“We are therefore concerned for the safety of learners and educators when there are flare-ups in the community and the possibility of weapons being carried into schools. Safe and secure learning environments are essential if we are to ensure that quality education is delivered. It is imperative that our schools remain weapon and drug-free,” Schafer said.
“The reality is that some learners do come to school in possession of dangerous objects and illegal drugs, despite the fact that our Western Cape provincial school education act clearly states that no person may bring these items onto the school premises at any time.”
In 2017, according to the safe school’s directorate, there were 177 instances where drugs were found on learners. In 2018, the number of incidents had increased to 194. About 56 instances were reported where learners had weapons on them on school premises and in 2018, the number of incidents increased to 78.
“This is of grave concern to me and it is for this reason that the WCED works with Saps to conduct random search and seizure operations at schools across the province,” said Schafer. “The possibility exists that learners in possession of dangerous objects or alcoholic liquor or illegal drugs on our school grounds may cause serious psychological damage or physiological injury to others. This directly contributes to the challenges of providing an education of progressively better quality for all learners”, she added.
Winde said: “We’ve seen a spate of violence in Mitchells Plain, with reports of 25 murders in the area in February alone. Operations such as this should not be happening at any of our schools. It is tragic and maddening that innocent learners and educators are being exposed to such dangers, with weapons being brought on to school premises by those affiliated to gangs.
“We have to go to great lengths to ensure that schools are protected from violence. Our education facilities ought to be respected, safe spaces where children can thrive, grow in knowledge, and where the leaders of tomorrow can be developed”, he said.
Sources: iOl, EWN
SA- News Team