41 suspects arrested in connection with school burglaries in Gauteng
Police have arrested 41 suspects in connection with the increasing number of burglaries and burning of schools in Gauteng.
Police spokesperson Cpt Mavela Masondo said 17 suspects were arrested in Johannesburg (including Soweto), nine in Tshwane, seven in Sedibeng, four in Ekurhuleni and another four in the West Rand.
“Most of these suspects have already appeared in court after they were charged with arson and business burglary amongst other crimes,” Masondo said.
Masondo said Gauteng Provincial Commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela appointed a team of experienced and senior police officers to investigate and identify the perpetrators.
"I am pleased with the progress made by the team so far and I believe more suspects will be arrested soon. We are appealing to the community to work with the police in exposing those with intentions of depriving our children a better education in a conducive learning environment" Mawela said.
On Sunday, the Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said five schools in Soweto fell victim to theft by criminals as it disclosed that burglaries at its learning facilities have now skyrocketed to 55 during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he was perturbed by the increase in the number of cases of burglaries and vandalism at schools, from 40 on April 9.
The latest break-ins occurred between April 9-11 — affecting 15 schools.
These are: Harmony Primary, Lenasia; Eersterust Secondary, Eersterust; Matseke Primary, Atteridgville; Jordan Secondary, Evaton; Jabulani Technical, Soweto; Thomas Nhlapho Primary, Meyerton; Moqhaka Secondary School, Sebokeng; Kwa-Ntsikana Secondary School, Soweto; Klipvalley Primary School, Soweto; Lufhereng Secondary, Soweto; Mbuyisa Makhubu Primary School. Soweto; Ivory Park Secondary, Ivory Park; Mahube Valley Primary, Mahube Valley; Sehopotso Secondary, Sebokeng; and Princess Primary, Roodepoort.
Valuable equipment and school nutrition groceries were stolen during the burglaries, the education department said.
“It seems that these criminals are not bothered and they don’t have a sense of the damage they are causing to the future of our children and our country, because without education, we are doomed, the future is bleak,” said Lesufi.
Gauteng community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko said last week she has deployed the province's traffic police saturation unit and the special law-enforcement unit to work with the police in tracing those responsible for both the attacks on schools and clinics.
Lesufi on Sunday reiterated his call to communities to help protect schools, and to report criminal activities in their areas to law enforcement agencies.