ANC using unsafe Khayelitsha schools as pawns‚ says education MEC
The Western Cape education MEC says ANC-aligned organisations were behind protests that shut nine Khayelitsha schools on Monday.
Debbie Schäfer said the closures — while pupils‚ teachers and parents marched to Premier Helen Zille’s office to demand better security at schools — were co-ordinated by the South African National Civic Organisation and the Confederation of South African Students.
“While I fully support calls for safer schools‚ I condemn in the strongest possible terms protest action during school hours‚ especially illegal protest action‚” Schäfer said in a statement on Tuesday.
“I also condemn the politically driven attempts by ANC-affiliated organisations to deflect from the ANC-run national government’s mandate over policing‚ and ensuring safer communities.”
Schäfer’s statement was the latest salvo in a long-running war of words between the DA-controlled provincial government and the police over law enforcement on the Cape Flats.
The DA says the police are woefully understaffed in some of the country’s most violent suburbs and has repeatedly demanded the intervention of troops. Police Minister Bheki Cele says soldiers are not trained in policing and will not be deployed.
Last week‚ a Public Service Commission investigation found 85% of Western Cape police stations are understaffed‚ including those with the highest murder rates. The commission gave Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula six months to address the staff shortages.
Schäfer said school safety is a legitimate concern‚ and her department is attempting to address it. However‚ “we simply do not have the legislative mandate‚ security expertise or budget to guarantee learner safety from armed criminals that are preying on our schools”. She added: “The best solution ... is an increased police presence‚ effective criminal intelligence‚ arrests and convictions.”
She encouraged protesters to take their concerns to parliament‚ and said she and Zille would join such a march.