Teachers want state protection

MEC for Education Ina Cronje. Pic. Mandla Mkhize. 31/08/07. © Sowetan.
MEC for Education Ina Cronje. Pic. Mandla Mkhize. 31/08/07. © Sowetan.

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

The National Teachers Union (Natu) has called on the government and education department to ensure the safety of teachers and pupils at schools.

The appeal comes after three schools in KwaZulu-Natal came under attack from armed robbers in the last two weeks.

In the latest incident this week armed robbers slit the throat of a security guard and robbed the caretaker and his family at a Durban school, hours before the pupils arrived for class.

In Lamontville last week two teachers were robbed at gunpoint at two different schools.

Natu provincial spokesman Musa Gumede said previous attempts by education officials to improve the situation had been unsuccessful.

"The safety of pupils and teachers is a basic right. It is up to the employer to ensure their safety. The department has been singing the same chorus for the past four years and the situation is getting worse.

"We have previously suggested that the department employ one armed security guard for every 100 pupils. If they value the life of our teachers and pupils, they will act now."

The KwaZulu-Natal education department said it did not have the mandate to provide security at schools, pointing out that the issue of safety at schools is the responsibility of the department of community safety and liaison.

Department spokesman Christie Naude said the attacks should be condemned.

"We have witnessed a reduction in crime in areas where the local school leadership works closely with local police.

"In some cases in northern Zululand local police have stepped up patrols in areas where schools were being targeted by criminals. Every school must have a safety committee," she said.

Naude said the "adopt-a-cop" programme was another initiative aimed at facilitating better relations between schools and police stations.

She said the provincial education MEC Ina Cronje, pictured, is of the opinion that communities should work with the police to ensure that schools remained centres of learning as the criminals were often known to members of the community.