Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said his department is concerned about break-ins at schools and the subsequent theft of personal protective equipment (PPE).
As such, there is a possibility that schools in the province may, in the future, have to use soap, instead of sanitiser, for handwashing.
The most recent incident occurred at Sikhulisile Primary School in Ekangala, Tshwane, which was broken into on Friday, and again on Sunday, during which PPEs for teachers and pupils were stolen.
“That is why I am persuading the department of health we might have to concentrate on using soap in our schools because the PPEs, with an element of alcohol, are starting to attract the wrong people.
“But with the country going to Level 3 on Monday, and with the likelihood that alcohol will be sold, we really believe that it might minimise the attacks,” Lesufi said.
The MEC conducted a visit to assess the state of readiness of Ga-Rankuwa Primary School on Tuesday.
The school had previously experienced delays in the delivery of the equipment, but received it on Monday.
The delay was due to a misunderstanding between local businesses and the government with regard to the delivery of PPEs, Lesufi said.
While Ga-Rankuwa Primary was fortunate not to be vandalised during the lockdown, other schools in the volatile area were not as lucky.
Lesufi said perpetrators were now seemingly attacking schools to gain access to PPEs, which was why it would no longer be stored at schools.
Deployment of security guards
He said the department had urged the police to prioritise finding the culprits behind the break-in at Sikhulisile Primary.
Lesufi added that, so far, at least 42 people had been arrested for vandalism and burglaries in the province. He said 335 schools had been burgled in the province during the lockdown.
He added that some schools’ administration blocks were burnt down, while others were vandalised.
The MEC said, once schools reopened, the department would be deploying security guards to protect them from vandalism and theft.
The department was also working with the provincial community safety department to enlist the assistance of police officers to patrol schools.
School governing body members involved
“We are using a just in time method, which means we deliver immediately, so that it (PPEs) can be consumed. We don’t deliver to store because, when we deliver to store, then we are inviting [robbers] breaking in,” said Lesufi.
He said the approach of “delivering just in time”, however, had its problems, in that it delayed the process.
Lesufi said the police were working hard to find the culprits behind the attacks on schools. He said it was unfortunate that the department was also receiving reports that some school governing body members were involved in some of the cases.
“It’s unfortunate that a person assigned a task to protect the school is using the information to disrupt the school. As soon as we get that, the police will indicate the profile of those individuals.”