Minister Grant Visits Phoenix Secondary After Fatal Stabbing
This morning, Western Cape Minister for Education Donald Grant visited Phoenix Secondary School in Manenberg to offer his condolences and lend his support to the school after the brutal and senseless killing of Keenan Van Wyk yesterday.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this most difficult of time," said Grant.
"I have heard nothing but good reports about Keenan and the way he led his life. He was loved by his fellow classmates and educators, was top of his class academically, and participated in school and community activities."
Grant first received a debriefing from the school's principal Mr. Abrahams and then went to address learners from the Grade 12 class of 2010.
"It is most unfortunate that I have to address you here today under these very sad and tragic circumstances. I am asking you all to show leadership in your school and unite against any form of gangsterism and violence," Grant told learners.
"Principal Abraham is correct to say that there should only be two sets of groups amongst you - Grade 12 A and Grade 12B."
Grant said that he was well aware that security in schools was a big concern for many parents and communities, and that this fatal incident had further increased his will to stamp out violence in our schools.
"The WCED, through its Safe Schools programme, is doing all it can to protect our learners and to ensure that our schools are safe and secure learning environments," said Grant.
"Last year one hundred and nine (109) of our high risk schools, including Phoenix Secondary, were issued with two hand held metal detectors. Reports from schools indicate that these devices have been successful in deterring learners from bringing dangerous objects into schools. Another measure that we initiated was the search and seizure operations by SAPS. Our draft Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill, which is currently under review, places further prohibitions on dangerous objects, illegal drugs and liquor on school premises and provides greater powers to conduct search and seizure operations at schools."
"However, while the WCED had measures in place to prevent learners from carrying dangerous and illegal weapons into our schools, there was always the risk that learners would use other objects such as scissors, pens, and pencils to carry out acts of violence. These kind of 'weapons' are, by their mere nature, almost impossible to police. So while we can stamp out illegal weapons such as knives and guns, we simply can't restrict access to objects such as rulers, which can be filed down to make a sharp end, which are used in every classroom throughout the world," he said.
"What we can do, is to try and teach learners to address conflict without using violence. Unfortunately, in many areas of the Western Cape, violence is used as a means to an end, especially in gang infested communities. This kind of behaviour is unfortunately being acted out in our schools. Therefore, we have to, as educators, parents, community members and citizens of the Western Cape help prevent our young people falling into the downward spiral of violence, substance misuse and anti-social behaviour."
Grant said that this would also require commitment from the police, and other Provincial departments such as Social Development and Community Safety.
"This issue was raised in the house yesterday afternoon. We have to look at youth violence in a holistic manner."
Grant said that the Safe Schools 'Youth at Risk model' made provision for support within mainstream schools, which included early identification of learners who show signs of aggressive behaviour, and special developmental programmes to assist learners at risk.
"These programmes target learners that are unable to manage anger, are in the possession and/or use of dependency producing substances and participate in immoral conduct," he said.
"However, we need parents and communities to assist us in identifying these learners, so that we can prevent this kind of tragic incident from ever happening again."
Minister of Education, Donald Grant
Cell: 072 724 1422
Tel: 021 467 2377