'One of the worst schools ever'

Thozi Manyisana

Thozi Manyisana

The use of drugs is so rife that the police have caught 12-year-old pupils high on dagga at school.

Drugs are widely thought to be the cause of rampant violence at Kei Road Combined School.

Captain Lindelwa Vellem, commissioner of the Kei Road police station in Eastern Cape, made this disclosure at a recent Education Department workshop convened to discuss how to stop violence and drug abuse at the school.

District education officer Nombuyiselo Gitywa said the school was "one of the worst schools in my career".

The workshop was an intervention by the Education Department after a spate of drug busts and violence inside and outside the school premises.

Gitywa said she "felt bad" about the recent death of a pupil who was allegedly stabbed to death by another pupil in Mthonjweni township, where the school is situated.

She said that after hearing the news she rushed to the school and told the teachers "let's do something about the situation".

The stabbing incident early this month happened outside the school premises but the argument allegedly started at the school.

Sowetan recently reported incidents at the school when pupil chased another with a bread knife and another when a pupil was found in possession of dagga inside the classroom by police.

School principal Loyiso Dyani said the use of drugs in the school was linked to the violence.

Vellem said police were scratching their heads about how to deal with this "new problem" because "it was difficult to arrest a 12-year-old".

Vellem said that the youngsters were also regularly chased away from the local shebeens and taverns at night by police and that showed parents needed to guide their children.

Painting a bleak picture about the school, with parents nodding in agreement, Gitywa said she did not even know when it was break- time because pupils roamed inside and outside the school at "all times of the day".

She called on parents to "take ownership" of the school to restore order and discipline, and help provide their children with a decent education.

Parents, teachers and pupils are expected to draft and agree on a comprehensive, strict code of conduct that would be signed by both the parent and the pupil on registration.

lA fence is being erected at the school to separate senior pupils from primary school pupils and prevent the younger children being exposed to drugs.