Minister Grant Oversees a "Search and Seizure" at Hout Bay School
This morning, Western Cape Education Minister, Donald Grant, visited Hout Bay Secondary to oversee a surprise "search and seizure" operation by SAPS.
The operation forms part of the Western Cape Government's strategy to curb substance abuse in the province and follows the opening of the new Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centre in Hout Bay on Tuesday by Minister for Social Development Albert Fritz.
"It's important that the Western Cape Government creates awareness around the issue of substance abuse, both in and out of our schools. Therefore, as the Education Department, we want to avoid at all costs any drugs entering our school premises and promote the message that drugs have the potential to destroy their lives," he said.
"We are here today to remind these learners that our schools are drug-, weapon- and alcohol-free zones, and that any learner found in possession of illegal substances will be dealt with by the law. They have also been reminded that if they do have an addiction, there is help available."
This morning, a random narcotics search was conducted in two of the school's classrooms - one Grade 10 class and one Grade 11 class. No illegal substances were found.
"I am pleased that we did not find any drugs or alcohol here today. However, this does not mean that we will not be back," he said. "I have spoken to the Hout Bay SAPS and we have agreed that random surprise searches will take place in the future."
Grant said that because of the positive effects of the searches, the WCED will be continuing with the SAPS searches throughout the school year in various schools.
"However, there are other search mechanisms available for schools, such as the use of the hand-held metal detector. We are also, in the coming week, making available to schools guidelines and procedures for principals for conducting their own 'search and seizures'", he said.
"These guidelines follow the passing of the Western Cape Provincial School Education Act late last year which provides more clearly defined powers to conduct search and seizure operations at schools. For instance, our legislation bases the right to search and seize on 'reasonable suspicion' and not on evidence alone. It therefore lies in the discretion of the principal and increases the opportunity for principals to exert their authority."
Grant said that the guidelines will assist principals in ensuring that they are in full compliance with the relevant law when conducting these searches and that the rights of learners are respected.
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