Gang violence blamed for high drop-outs in schools
WESTERN Cape MEC for education Donald Grant says many pupils in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, have dropped out of school because of gang violence in the sprawling township.
Last week, Khayelitsha police called on parents to discipline their children if they are involved in gangsterism or gang activities.
The call was after about 50 teenage gangsters armed with knives and pangas entered Green Point in Khayelitsha last Sunday and attacked anyone in sight.
Residents, in turn, fired on the mob to drive them away after the teenagers had forced their way into homes in search of rival gangsters.
Grant said he could not say how many pupils had dropped out of school in Khayelitsha, but was very concerned about the rise in gang violence in the township and was convinced this played a role.
"While this is a broader societal issue affecting pupils outside schools, we are still worried that it has negative effects on schooling and the future of the children involved," he said.
Grant said incidents of gang violence were taking place outside of school premises but had affected attendance levels at many schools.
The province's department of education was monitoring the situation and was also concerned for the safety of the pupils travelling to and from school.
The department had met school heads in the second term to discuss the issue of gangsterism and the way forward to address the problem.
Grant said: "A number of search and seizures have been conducted at schools as well as anti-gangsterism programmes at selected schools."
The Department of community safety arranged camps for pupils at Tokai, Cape Town, where they participated in life skills training.
He said the department also conducted parenting workshops and would continue working with the police, other provincial departments and role-players to combat gangsterism.
Khayelitsha police spokesman Andre Traut said they had embarked on a zero-tolerance approach to the ongoing gang fighting in Khayelitsha.
"Due to the age category of the offenders, police engaged with their parents as well but some parents are too despondent to get involved in the prevention of these incidents.
"Some parents deny that their children are involved."
Traut warned that perpetrators of gang violence would be arrested and dealt with accordingly.
"Many youngsters think they are exempt from prosecution due to their age (under 18). This is not true. They will be dealt with under the new Children's Act."
Traut also said no new suspects had been arrested in connection with the gang violence which left a pupil dead in Green Point.
To increase policing in the area, Operation Protect Khayelitsha was launched recently. It entails an additional deployment of police officers from other policestations within Khayelitsha, Traut added.