2007-07-29 : School declares 'state of emergency' over crime

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2007-07-29 : School declares 'state of emergency' over crime

Postby GOSA » Tue, 2007-08-21 07:58


School declares `state of emergency´ over crime
SUBASHNI NAIDOO Published:Jul 29, 2007

`This has now spiralled out of control and we can not tolerate
it any longer. Does someone else have to die before they take us

Lessons suspended until safety of pupils and teachers can be

Please protect us at school! This is the plea to the KwaZulu-
Natal Department of Education by pupils and teachers at Brooklyn
Heights Primary School in Chatsworth, which declared a "state of
emergency" and suspended lessons on Friday following the
stabbing of a teacher.

Theresa Govender, a Grade 6 teacher, was stabbed three times in
her hand after returning to the school from an excursion to the
Chatsworth Fair on Thursday afternoon.

The stabbing followed a spate of muggings and robberies at the
school in recent months.

On Friday, concerned parents, teachers and community leaders
took a decision to shut down the crime-ridden institution "until
the department can guarantee the safety of teachers and pupils".

The chairman of the newly elected Booklyn Heights Primary Crisis
Committee, Visvin Reddy, said the school was not conducive for
effective learning.

"We have declared a state of emergency at the school and are not
prepared to return until the department steps in. We are in the
process of finding alternative premises at the local community
hall or church so that lessons can resume as soon as possible,"
said Reddy.

The chairman of the governing body, Timmy Naidoo, said the
school was an easy target for criminals from a nearby informal
settlement and was the worst-hit in the area.

"This is an ongoing problem. Another teacher was robbed at the
same spot a few months ago. A parent was killed five years ago
while walking on the premises. Visiting teachers have also been
mugged here in recent months," said Naidoo.

"The department is doing nothing about it. They never have
enough funding to fence the school.

"This has now spiralled out of control and we can not tolerate
it any longer. Does someone else have to die before they take us

He said children were confined to an area between the two school
blocks during breaks and were not allowed to leave it.

Teachers who did not want to be named said they were prepared to
conduct lessons in tents or at the nearly community hall,
instead of teaching at the school.

A teacher who was on the scene during Thursday´s attack said she
heard loud screams just after Govender had walked past the gate.

"I turned around and was shocked to see the teacher lying on the
ground. Everyone around us was in a panic. We saw a man running
into the notorious Bottlebrush settlement with a dagger in his
hand," said the woman.

"Now we feel uncertain if we are going to leave the school
premises alive. Our school is under siege by these thugs and we
are helpless."

KwaZulu-Natal´s superintendent-general for education, Dr Cassius
Lubisi, said he was aware of the crisis but was disturbed that
the school had been closed.

"In terms of the Schools Act, no person other than the head of
the Education Department can close a school. We appeal to the
management to follow appropriate measures relating to the
operation of the school," said Lubisi.

He said the department condemned attacks on pupils and teachers
and was awaiting a full report from their district office.

He said the department had a programme in place to ensure that
all pupils were in a safe environment at school.

"It is impossible to serve all schools at the same time. In the
previous financial year, 147 schools were fenced in the
province. We will study the situation and advise on the
appropriate action to be taken,"he said.
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