Incidents of Holiday Vandalism Down, with Major Incidents Cut by Half
Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Education
School vandalism does not only come at a cost to the WCED, but to the learner and the community too. We are therefore delighted that incidents of vandalism reported over the December/ January holiday period are down by 21.95% compared to the same period last year, with major incidents cut by half.
In order to protect our schools, as far as possible, from burglary and vandalism over the holiday period, the WCED’s Safe Schools directorate arranged for increased security at some of our identified high risk schools. 448 schools received either overnight security or 24-hour security. Unfortunately, despite these measures, some of our schools still fell victim to vandalism and burglaries during the school holiday.
During the December/ January holiday period 26 schools across the province reported incidents of vandalism and/or burglary with 30 minor incidents and 2 major incidents being reported. The number of incidents during the summer holiday dropped to 32 from 41 during the same holiday period in 2013/14.
Schools reported two major incidents in 2014/15 compared to four in 2013/14. Of the 26 schools, the Cape Winelands District reported the highest number of incidents in the province, with 11 incidents of burglary and vandalism.
We received three reports from the Metro Central District, six from the Metro South District and two reports from the Metro East District. The hardest hit district in the metro was Metro North District with seven incidents of vandalism reported.
The WCED received one report of vandalism and burglary from the Eden and Karoo District, Overberg District, and two reports from the West Coast District.
Only two cases have been classified as "major", and 30 cases have been classified as "minor".
The WCED is completing a cost analysis but so far, the cost for repairs for just over half of the schools has come in at just under R1 million.
The WCED spends about R10 million a year on emergency repairs for damage resulting from major incidents of vandalism.
The department and schools could better spend these funds on improving the quality of education in schools. At the end of the day, vandalism represents theft from our learners.
We are saddened to hear that burglars broke into the kitchen of one of our poorer schools and stole cooking and kitchen appliances as well as into the school feeding scheme room of another school and vandalised the appliances.
In most cases, perpetrators broke into the school classrooms and vandalised the interior, breaking windows and doors, yet stealing nothing.
In other cases, computer labs, school offices and bathrooms were broken into. Electronics were stolen and doors and gates damaged while trying to gain entry.
It is important for communities to take ownership of the schools in their area and realise that they have an important role to play in protecting their community’s assets.
The co-operation of the community is essential in order to combat learner vandalism and to create a safe school environment that promotes teaching and learning. We urge community members to be extra vigilant throughout the year and to immediately report any suspicious behavior or activities that occur within the vicinity of their schools to report this immediately.
One incident of vandalism is one incident too many. We do however need to acknowledge the decline in reported incidents and for this, I would like to thank Safe Schools, Metro Police, SAPS and members of the community for their sustained efforts in assisting us in putting an end to vandalism and burglary in our schools.
(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).