'School robbers' caught red-handed as community pounces

Community members catch suspected school robbers in the act.
Community members catch suspected school robbers in the act.

Angry residents in Orlando in Soweto, Johannesburg, apprehended a pair of thugs who had attempted to break in to steal learning material at Ditawana Primary School on Saturday.

The pair were caught while inside one of the classrooms as they were rummaging through its contents, SowetanLIVE reported.

A video of their capture and assault surfaced on social media on Saturday evening. A woman in the video can be heard pleading with the angry community members to forgive the pair and set them free.

A community member who asked not to be named said they have been reading and hearing about school burglaries but did not say that a school in their community would fall prey to criminals.

“It's sad that people are taking advantage of this coronavirus issue. This school is not for wealthy children, the community here is struggling, we are not rich. Why would someone try to steal from a school that barely has anything? They got what they deserved,” said the community member.

Schools have been closed since March 26 2020 due to the global Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Since then, over 400 schools have been broken into or set alight.

Police spokesperson Capt Mavela Masondo said 41 suspects had been arrested in Gauteng by the end of last week and that three more suspects had since been arrested in Sebokeng. Masondo said Gauteng provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela had appointed a team of experienced and senior police officers to investigate and identify the perpetrators.

“I am pleased with the progress made by the team so far and I believe more suspects will be arrested soon. We are appealing to the community to work with the police in exposing those with intentions of depriving our children of a better education in a conducive learning environment,” Mawela said.

On Thursday, Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi applauded the police for arresting suspects linked to school break-ins.

“We are delighted, the police have done sterling work in arresting these recalcitrants who are persistent to disregard regulations enforced during this critical moment of the lockdown. We don’t understand where they find time to commit these crimes because everyone should be at home,” he said.

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