School’s safety threatened by shack dwellers

An East London primary school is under attack, with pupils being robbed of their belongings at gunpoint.
For eight years, teachers have had countless items stolen from their classrooms.
AW Barnes Primary School in Parkside is right next to the Second Creek RDP housing development. However, the Second Creek informal settlement which has mushroomed from just 26 shacks eight years ago to 200, is behind the school.
The vibracrete wall between the two barely separates them there are so many holes in it.
Parent Zingiswa Qapa, who is also a community policing forum (CPF) member, said the wall had been broken by the shack dwellers for easy access and the school grounds were used as a thoroughfare.
Qapa said around June a group of people entered the school premises and pointed a gun at pupils having their lunch. The scared children ran away, leaving their bags and lunch boxes behind.
“When we got to where the incident happened, their bags were gone. We called the police and raided the shacks, and found a group of young men in one of the shacks with the bags and a toy gun,” said Qapa.
Ruewaida McCaskill, a young teacher, said the pupils’ education was being compromised and so was their safety.
“I fear for my life, but mostly I fear for these children’s lives and their education. There are constantly strangers walking about, sometimes peeping into the class, and we live with the constant fear that we might be attacked,” she said.
Earlier in 2018, a grade 2 pupil was injured on the head when a boy from the informal settlement threw a stone.
Qapa said several letters addressed to the education department requesting better fencing had been met with silence.
“The department is probably waiting for a child to be killed, abducted or raped first.”
When the Daily Dispatch visited the school last week, a litter of pigs was roaming around the playground, while countless people unknown to the school made their way through the school grounds.
Provincial education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said the department would initiate a meeting with police, parents, the metro and social development.
Asked why the department had not fenced the school, Mtima said: “I will have to investigate why, but it could be due to budget constraints.”
BCM’s ward councillor in the area, the DA’s Richard Rooy, said he was aware of the situation.
“I am working on a solution that will see the shack dwellers relocated,” he said...

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