A raid at the Fezeka High School in Gugulethu on Thursday went embarrassingly wrong, with provincial education MEC Debbie Schafer questioning the police’s capability of dealing with search and seizure operations at schools. The operation was aimed at addressing the issues of drugs and gang violence highlighted by educators and the school safety committee. According to Schafer, police did not follow protocol and were not prepared.
The raid, expected to begin at 11:30am was delayed as police claimed they were only notified of the operation 15 minutes prior. However, the minister’s officials told journalists they had made arrangements for the raid a week in advance.
“Only a few police officials came out. We also requested the services of sniffer dogs but no arrangements had been made by police. When they entered the classroom to proceed with the search of learners, they were clearly unprepared. I can see why my Safer Schools Directorate has so many complaints. Police can’t even communicate with each other. Police can’t even get together to conduct a simple search and seizure operation. If they can’t do that, how can we feel safe?” Schafer told journalists in a briefing at the school.
Two learners were found to be in possession of a knife. They claim the knives were not intended for use on the school premises, instead it was used to protect them from gang elements outside the school premises as they walk home. Police then proceeded to place the two boys at the back of the police van, with one of the officials heard describing it as a show “for the media”. However, Schafer said this goes against basic protocol.
Speaking to journalists after the operation, Gugulethu SAPS acting station commander, Colonel Patrick acknowledged the mistake made by officials and told media immediate steps have been taken to rectify.
“I will be apologising to the children. We have taken them to the principal’s office and we have notified their parents.”
Furthermore, Schafer says more of these operations will be conducted soon in order to send out a message that school is not a place drugs and weapons.
“We hope to conduct more of these, but are extremely concerned at the organisational capacity of SAPS in Gugulethu. I requested a meeting with General Jula a month ago. But to date have still not received a confirmed date of an appointment. After what I witnessed today, I will be reiterating that request,” Schafer concluded.
VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)