Anger as nearly 400 schools burgled and trashed in just 22 days
While many liquor and food stores have been looted during the national lockdown, schools are also taking a pounding.
The basic education ministry said on Friday that close to 400 of its schools had been targeted by thugs since the start of the lockdown, which left many of the properties vulnerable.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga's office said 397 schools had been vandalised or burgled, and Mpumalanga had emerged as the hardest-hit province, recording 73 break-ins.
“The damage caused by the torching and theft in schools will affect the recovery plan once the lockdown is lifted,” the ministry said.
Teaching items, stationery and school infrastructure had been stolen or vandalised in these incidents.
The most common targets in schools were the administration blocks where equipment was kept and the nutrition centres where food was stored.
Gauteng recorded the second-highest number of break-ins at 67. The Western Cape had 57, North West 55, Northern Cape 39 and KwaZulu-Natal 34. Limpopo reported 30 cases while the Eastern Cape had 26 and Free State 16.
Motshekga condemned the incidents and welcomed the recent arrests of people in connection with school break-ins in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
In Gauteng, 44 people have been arrested, some of them with items believed to have been stolen from schools.
In KwaZulu-Natal, two people were arrested.
“It is really unfortunate that criminals in our communities destroy the infrastructure of their own children. We applaud the work done by the police, and we hope more arrests will be made. We want to see the arrest and prosecution of every single criminal responsible for this kind of behaviour,” Motshekga said.
She said communities were meant to safeguard buildings which were meant for their own benefit. She called on community members to help police catch the culprits.