'Safety must be enforced in schools'

SAFETY: MEC Fish Mahlalela. © Sowetan.\n\nBD 31/03/2008, pg 3.
SAFETY: MEC Fish Mahlalela. © Sowetan.\n\nBD 31/03/2008, pg 3.

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Safety in schools must be enforced in the crime-infested Pienaar Trust area of Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, to maintain an environment conducive to learning.

So said Mpumalanga safety and security MEC Fish Mahlalela after meeting with officials from the provincial department of education's Ehlanzeni regional office, Mayibuye High School pupils and the school's governing body on Monday morning.

Mahlalela said he would like to see safety being enforced in schools in the area. This is the area that President Thabo Mbeki once declared the 14th hottest crime spot in the country.

Ntombenhle Khathwane, the MEC's spokesperson, told Sowetan that the meeting at Mayibuye High took place after a Grade 12 pupil allegedly shot and injured one of three cops who had come to the school to arrest him for murder.

The pupil had allegedly been involved in the murder of a local Roman Catholic Church priest, Father Allard Mako Omi, on the night of October 5 during a hijacking incident in the area.

"Problems that have been identified as the causes of crime at schools in the area include the following: pupils form gangs, start fights outside and then continue these at school, vandalism to school property caused by a lack of a sense of community ownership, and taverns that are situated close to schools," said Khathwane.

She said it was also established that crime was rife in the areas under the KaNyamazane policing forum, especially Msogwaba and Dantjie.

These two settlements form the "troublesome" Pienaar Trust, she added.

As a way forward, Mahlalela recommended that his department would study the region's school safety plan and decide what role to play.

"The police and the schools should revisit the Adopt a Cop programme and make it more effective than before," Mahlalela said.

He also said that police must conduct workshops on safety issues in all the schools. Mahlalela said schools should engage private companies in the area to play a meaningful role. He said private companies could do this as part of their social responsibility programmes.

"The Liquor Board must also revisit all liquor licences, particularly those close to schools. All illegal liquor outlets must be closed," he said.

After the meeting, Mahlalela visited three taverns and a shop. The shop owner was arrested for selling liquor without a valid licence.

Mahlalela closed a second tavern for failing to produce a valid licence. The owner of the third tavern was given a warning for operating a liquor business close to a school.