The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has assured that schools in Hanover Park are on high alert after an escalation in gang violence in the area, with police presence romped up at three institutions close to the heart of the warfare. This comes after two fatal shootings on Wednesday around the vicinity of the schools, as students were in the middle of writing their end-of-year exams. As a result, addition police personnel has been deployed to Atwood and Blomvlei primary schools, as well as Mountview High School.
WCED spokesperson, Jessica Shelver said that while learners were most at risk when travelling to and from school, parents need not fear for their child’s safety whilst on school premises.
“Parents often rush to schools to collect their children because they fear for their safety. I must point out that learners are most safe when they are on school premises…We do try and keep them in school until violence is either calmed down or there is an increased police presence,” she assured.
Shelver stressed that the WCED had a safe schools directorate who were in constant liaison with the South African Police Services (SAPS) on such issues, and in times of increased violence in area’s deemed volatile the department would work with police to ensure the safety of students.
“We are grateful to them (SAPS) for giving us an increased presence on the ground as this is one of the only things that act as a deterrent for the gangs that are fighting each other at this time,” she said.
Shelver said many schools were running behavioural intervention programmes to address cases where learners were proven to have some form of connection or participation in gang related activity.
“These include conflict management, trauma counselling, behavioural modification and also anti-gang strategies to try and deter them from joining gangs.
“We also have a youth-at-risk model that makes provisions for support, which include trying to identify the early signs in learners when they show aggressive behaviour, or if they have joined a gang,” she added. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)