Robberies force closure of township schools in Eastern Cape

The education department in Eastern Cape has closed 10 township schools following a spate of robberies that resulted in the shooting of two school principals.

The school principals survived the attacks and are back in their schools doing their jobs.

The Nelson Mandela education district said the affected schools were temporarily closed after they were repeatedly robbed at gunpoint.

Malibongwe Mtima, spokesperson for the department, confirmed the school closures and said the teachers have been moved to nearby school halls to continue with their duties.

The department believes the robberies are planned because they always take place when educators are busy with schedules, marking or finalising administration issues including the registration of pupils.

Laptops, cellphones stolen

During the robberies, thugs mainly target the laptops and cellphones belonging to staff.

“Meetings were held between the district, school governing bodies and school management teams to determine the viability of schools’ functionality under the circumstances,” said Mtima.

The meetings, he said, concluded that the safety of educators and pupils is compromised and that the closure of the affected schools is necessary.

“This [the closure] is a temporary measure to protect them from being vulnerable to these bandits. The affected schools are being clubbed together in different school halls in town.

“This is to ensure the finalisation of preparations for the next academic year while averting making the schools the soft targets.”

He said a psychosocial support team from the district has been activated to provide services to affected educators and staff.

Community urged to protect schools

Eastern Cape education MEC Fundile Gade urged parents and residents in Gqeberha to protect government facilities. 

“All government institutions and facilities are under attack in Gqeberha. We are sensitising society and parents of this shame, as this seeks to derail the progress made to date,” Gade said.

“We urge the people of Gqeberha to get involved and work with law-enforcement agencies to protect government facilities in the metro, including our schools.”

In November, Sunday World reported that three pupils were gunned down in two separate attacks in different schools in the province.

The department said at the time that the teenagers were studying for their final examinations when they came under attack.

The suspects were arrested after the attacks and are in custody awaiting their next appearance in court for charges of murder.

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