Collaboration on school safety yields jail sentence for school vandals
I am delighted to announce that, after a long period of discussions between the WCED, the Western Cape Department of Community Safety, the SAPS and NPA, we have agreed on the format of a Victim Impact Statement to be used in crimes of vandalism against schools. I am even more delighted that this Statement has been used in our first case against two accused who were convicted of housebreaking and theft at Eros School in Bridgetown, Athlone, and has resulted in the first accused being sentenced to 3 years' direct imprisonment and the second accused given three years correctional supervision, after they were found guilty on 19/10/2018.
The accused Faeez Brown and Shane Walters broke into the school library of Eros School and stole two kettles and electric wiring.
The intention of the Victim Impact Statement is that it will now be used by prosecutors;
- to oppose bail at the first bail appearance of the accused or;
- after the conviction of the accused in aggravation sentence.
In this particular matter, the statement was handed in in aggravation of sentence.
We are concerned that incidents of vandalism at schools are often not seen in the serious light in which they should be, as the courts are not always fully apprised of the impact of the actions on the school and the education department.
For example, when a person appears before a court for stealing 2 copper taps and some copper pipes, it is seldom seen as a "serious" crime and therefore such persons seldom receive an appropriate sentence - but by using a victim impact statement which must be introduced by the prosecutor in aggravation of sentence, we are able to provide the court with a "new" perspective which speaks to the impact of such acts of vandalism on the school system and how it often deprives or impacts negatively on the schooling for disadvantaged schools and learners. The Victim Impact Statement has already achieved significant success with the EMS safety cases.
By using this statement, the State is able to provide the court with additional information on the impact of crimes committed at schools, crimes such as burglary and vandalism.
As a department, we are working hard in conjunction with the Department of Community Safety to ensure that criminals face the full might of the law. I must thank the Department of Community Safety for pursuing the introduction of the Victim Impact Statement with the NPA.
To date, there have been unsatisfactory outcomes for cases involving vandalism at our schools. This case will now send out the clear message that there will be serious consequences for criminal who target our schools.
I am very pleased that the co-operation between all these departments in our Provincial Strategic Goal 2 Steering Committee has already yielded a positive outcome and hope to see many more in the future.