“Actions by a Few Selfish People Will Ultimately Affect the Learner”
Despite increased security measures, wherever possible, each school holiday, a small number of schools are victim to incidents of burglary and vandalism.
Incidents of burglary and vandalism vary.
In some cases, the costs can be major, such as electrical cable and copper theft.
In other cases, the costs are minimal, such as the theft of a single kettle, some stationery or the drawing of graffiti on a school wall.
No matter what the cost, the effects of such actions by a few selfish people will ultimately affect the learner.
Money spent on repairs or the replacement of equipment could be spent on other items that could improve the quality of our schools or the learning environment. Therefore, it remains a great concern to me that we continue to see incidents of burglary and vandalism at schools.
Last year, this Department paid out over R7 million in repairs to schools affected by burglary and vandalism - money that could have been used elsewhere.
We have yet to receive the total estimated costs for damages incurred in the latest June/July school holiday. However, we believe it will exceed R250 000.
This year, the WCED received 31 reports of burglary and vandalism during the winter holidays.
One case has been classified as “major”, 27 as “minor” and three as “negligible”.
In the “negligible” cases, one window pane had been broken, a lock tampered with, and in one case, there was graffiti painted onto the school wall.
Metro Central had the most number of cases. Schools in this district reported eight incidents of burglary and vandalism. There were no reported cases in the Overberg and the West Coast District.
The “major” case occurred at a school in the Metro South District. The school has reported the theft of light fittings, balustrades, hinges of cupboards, electrical cabling and the wiring of an electrical box. The estimated damages to this school is R100 000.
In some cases, the administration block was targeted with the theft of computer equipment, DVDs and stationery. In two cases, the toilets were targeted, with schools reporting the theft of copper and brass piping and handles.
In three of the cases, the feeding kitchens were targeted. Although I am relieved that the theft of food and equipment was minimal, it is disturbing to think that people are prepared to steal children’s food.
I was pleased to note that in six of the cases, it is believed that the perpetrators were disturbed by security either at the school, or as a result of armed response. The damages and repairs at these schools could have been more significant otherwise.
However, in all circumstances, our schools should be appreciated and valued for the role they play in all communities – providing opportunities for our youth.
Again, I appeal to communities to be our eyes and ears and report any suspicious behavior in and around our schools. They also have a role to play in protecting their community’s assets and I believe we can further reduce vandalism in our schools if we, together, take pride in these institutions and respect the role they play in their community’s future growth.
(Please note: The WCED does not identify the names of schools that have been affected by burglary and vandalism. In many cases, the damages caused by the perpetrators can result in a security threat or breach. Therefore, it is our policy to not announce the names.)