Thieves get away with high school computers

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A Lamontville school had 20 of its computers stolen only four days after the KwaZulu-Natal provincial education department announced it would employ nearly 3000 security guards at schools.

Criminals made a clean sweep when they broke into Lamontville High School on Saturday night.

Provincial MEC for education; Ina Cronje, said all the province's poorest schools would have at least one security guard by the end of the 2008/2009 financial year.

"We would want them (the security guards) to be there when the children are at school," she said.

She added that the province had managed to erect fences at 90percent of its schools and was hoping, in the coming years, to have all its schools fenced.

Lamontville police spokesman, Mhlonishwa Khawula, said a security guard who was on duty on Saturday night, said when an alarm went off, he rushed to investigate.

The guard discovered that a door had been opened. He closed it and left for his room.

"Because of the wind on the night, he assumed it (the wind) might have blown the door open. The alarm kept going off and each time he would shut the door and leave," said Khawula.

He said the guard only realised in the morning that the computer classroom had been broken into.

"Our investigations led to the arrest of four suspects and five computers were recovered. We will continue searching for other computers.

"It appears a group of people participated in the burglary, because one cannot imagine four people stealing so many computers," said Khawula.

Khawula said police were following information that some computers had been taken to Richards Bay, about 300km away from Lamontville.

A parent, who stays near the school, but who asked to remain anonymous, said the problem with schools in the townships was that the guards were unarmed and vulnerable.

"By placing an unarmed guard at the gate of the school does not really make any difference. In most cases, these criminals are armed to the teeth. The problem is more than just what the department is looking at.

"And again, some of the guards are not adequately trained," she said.