Crime, health drive taken to rural schools

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

The police and the Department of Health have launched a joint pilot project focused on crime and health in the rural primary schools of Newcastle, in KwaZulu-Natal.

The campaign is intended to teach pupils about crime and crime prevention, and about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

The exercise is aimed at pupils in rural schools where crime is rife and seldom reported, and where health facilities are scarce.

Police officers and health professionals visited the rural schools where they helped pupils with crime-related problems and health matters.

A police spokesman, Captain Shooz Magudulela, said the exercise was meant for young children because they had attentive minds and sharp ears, and were reliable in passing on what they had learnt.

"We rely on them to pass the message about crime to their family members. This is the stage when children need to be taught about the dangers of crime.

"Young children are sometimes used by criminals in drug trafficking," he said.

Magudulela said that some children were abused by their relatives at home. He said the health professionals taking part in the project were able to identify such children.

"Children who were found to have been sexually abused were helped on the spot, and police investigations got under way immediately," he said.

Vukile Mbingo, a local nursing sister, said the campaign had helped many children.

"We found many children who were sexually abused. Some of the kids suffer from TB and other illnesses.

"It's our responsibility to make sure they get help," she said.

Mbingo said some children "cried when we touched them".

Nonhlanhla Xaba-Segabutle, the principal of Clavis Primary School, applauded the government for the campaign.

"We used to have children suffering from TB and other diseases. The department has helped by paving our schools' yards because dust was responsible for the spread of TB," she said.