Before schools in KwaZulu-Natal reopen for the second term today, the provincial MEC for education, Ina Cronje, pictured, concerned teachers, parents and faith-based organisations held a prayer rally at Esikhawini, near Empangeni, yesterday.
At the rally a pledge to commit to safety at all schools in the region was signed as part of the launch of a safety awareness campaign to vow to strive for peace at schools in the province. The pledge will be taken to communities, institutions and other public arenas.
This initiative by the provincial education department follows a spate of violent attacks in several schools in the province last month including the murder of four teachers in the area.
Cronje said everything was being done to fight crime, but that unless people changed their values and showed respect for human life, the senseless killings in the province's schools would not stop.
"Our message we have come to deliver here is that our schools, our teachers and children must be protected.
"We will commit to make our schools safe.
"When someone out of the blue kills another for no reason, something is wrong and we have to do something about it now," Cronje said.
Last month, the principal of Nhlokohloko Primary School and two suspected hit men, were arrested in connection with the killings of two teachers at the school, Bonisiwe Mthenjane and Philile Ntuli, both 34.
The three were arrested after police found them in possession of the deceased's belongings including bank cards and cellphones.
A Marianhill teacher, Nokulunga Ndala, was stabbed to death by a pupil in her classroom at Thornwood High School.
Hardly a day later Thulani Ntshangase was gunned down by an unknown man in full view of the school's pupils on the school premises.
Provincial spokesman for the South African Democratic Teachers Union Mjozi Motha said the union would put more pressure on the department of education to set aside a budget to deploy security guards in all the province's schools.
Led by leaders of various faiths the rally prayed for the families of the slain teachers and for the parents of the pupils killed.