Armed guards, metal detectors, panic buttons for Gauteng schools

Armed security guards, metal detectors, close circuit television (CCTV) cameras, panic buttons and prison tours.

These are some of the measures that have been outlined by Gauteng education MEC Matome Chiloane to deal with safety concerns in schools that have been affected by high levels of violence and crime.

Speaking at Sizwe High School in Elandsfontein, Germiston in Ekurhuleni, one of the 75 school which have been prioritised as part of the province’s school safety strategy – Chiloane said safety patrols will also form part of the intervention.

Matome brought together principals from 75 schools and their school governing body representatives; community members; and officials from the social development and safety and security clusters to talk about the roll-out of the school safety programme dubbed “Operation Kgutla Molao”.

The department said the safety programme is part of the province’s school safety action plan aimed at reducing incidents of violence, bullying, suicide, substance abuse, and sexual harassment.

“The department aims to achieve this by working together with the police, government departments, members of the community, and non-governmental organisations,” said the department’s spokesperson Steve Mabona in a statement.

“Sizwe High School is one of 75 prioritised schools within a list of 245 schools in the province that have been identified as high risk.”

Those prioritised as high-risk schools have recorded cases of criminal acts against pupils, teachers, the school management, school infrastructure and movable assets.

Drugs and substance abuse inside and outside school premises are also rife in such schools, including undesirable behaviour such as bullying, racism, sexual harassment and other acts of misconduct.

Chiloane said four armed security guards per school will be deployed at each of the 75 schools and hand-held metal detectors will be used to identify dangerous weapons.

Some of the interventions under the Operation Kgutla Molao include the activation of e-panic buttons for 3 000 staff members, he said, to be rolled out in conjunction with the Gauteng department of community safety, and the installation of CCTV cameras linked to a provincial command centre.

Patrol by safety wardens, popularly known as Ama Panya-Panya, around the schools in conjunction with the Gauteng department of community safety will also be the order of the day.

A total of 500 pupil-support agents will also rotate among the schools.

Prison tours will also form part of efforts to conscientise problematic pupils about the dangers of acts such as bullying.

“The unwavering commitment of the department and partnering stakeholders towards the safety and wellbeing of learners in Gauteng schools is evident through the rigorous implementation of Operation Kgutla Molao,” said Chiloane

“By addressing various safety concerns and collaborating with law enforcement, government agencies, communities, and organisations, we are actively working to create a safer and more secure learning environment for all.”

In September, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told parliament in a written reply that 805 schools have been prioritised for psychosocial support.

These are schools situated in high crime-risk areas.

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