By Aneeqa Du Plessis
Appalled parents shut down Alpine Primary School in Mitchells Plain on Wednesday after 1300 children were expected to share two toilets. Alpine primary has been the target of continuous vandalism incidents. Several complaints were reported to the province’s Safe School Call Centre during the holidays. In the biggest incident, three classrooms were destroyed and the boys’ bathroom gutted, and in another, a shoot-out between security company personnel and the perpetrators who had attempted to break into the school ensued.
Since then there has been mixed reaction from parents to the temporary toilets organized by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said plans are underway to permanently fix the bathroom stalls.
“We had employed a contractor to go in but unfortunately that first contractor fell through, a second contractor was appointed and they are on site right now.”
Albeit, certain parents are unhappy with the portable toilets that the WCED has provided as a temporary solution.
“There is a certain parent body that are saying they object against the chemical toilets, but it really is our only solution now until we get the toilets fixed,” said Hammond.
During the December and January school holidays, some 30 schools in the Western Cape were vandalised.
Alpine has seen a large spike in vandalism over the course of the last two years. Since 2018 to 2019 it went from having one vandalism case reported to 18. Hammond surmised that the perpetrators live within the community.
“In general, we do find that the people that are vandalizing the schools are the ones that actually live within that community.”
Hammond has admitted that it is unfortunate that the community have not taken responsibility for the school and not displayed its due respect.
“It’s quite sad that there is no community ownership in that regard, in terms of people not respecting their schools. Our schools should be the center of our communities. They should be valued and respected.”
Alpine is a prime example of criminals seeing an opportunity to make a quick buck but in turn resulting in the learners becoming collateral damage.
Mitchells Plain CPF chairperson Abie Isaacs advised that the community come forward and report the necessary suspects and ultimately put a stop to these acts of crime.
Isaacs has also called on the relevant School Governing Body (SGB) to take heed and make it their duty to safeguard their own schools.
“SGB’s which are the legislative arm in terms of the school structure needs to play a pivotal role and ensure these infrastructures are not vandalized.”
Isaacs has advised frustrated parents that are in protest to operate within the framework of the law.
If you are aware of any crimes taking place within your community, contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.