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By Chisom Jenniffer Okoye


Gauteng schools lose R120m to thieves – Lesufi

The department had also received 187 reports of bullying and 107 of violence and assault.

Although the Gauteng education department’s revelation of a whopping R120 million loss due to criminal incidents is far from good news, an education expert has said it is heartening that the information is being monitored and publicised.

MEC Panyaza Lesufi said yesterday there had been 262 cases of theft and vandalism since the beginning of the year.

The department had also received 187 reports of bullying and 107 of violence and assault.

He said this has cost the department a loss of R121,348,663.40.

This revelation comes after the province hogged headlines throughout the year for criminal incidences in its schools, particularly after Lesufi started introducing digital devices.

Just a week after schools opened in January, the new Menzi Primary in Tsakane, a state-of-the-art township school, was robbed of its equipment including all 185 tablets, eight teacher laptops, two data projectors, three desktop computers, a plasma TV, petty cash of less than R500 and a digital video recorder.

In another incident in April, a Johannesburg school in Midrand was reportedly robbed of its money and computers.

The break-in at the Gideon Rambuwani Primary School in Klipfontein View included the loss of a server, two laptops, 27 computers, two cameras, a gas stove and R2,000 in cash.

“Criminal incidents such as theft, burglaries and vandalism led to the loss of valuable resources meant to enhance the delivery of quality education to pupils,” Lesufi said.

“Unfortunately, our resources are seen by some as an opportunity to feed their criminal deeds and rob our pupils of their right to quality basic education.

“Though there is support from law enforcement agencies, the department believes more can still be done, and the law enforcement agencies must bring education to the centre of their security analysis, security and risk. This will allow the department to focus on its main mandate.”

Lesufi also urged community members to become involved. He said they should “take ownership and declare war against criminals who are targeting schools”.

Although his revelation exposes a darker side to the challenges the department is facing, education expert Mary Metcalfe said on the brighter side “these incidents are being monitored and publicly reported”.

She said it is “a good basis for action. Critically, this tells us about the difficult conditions under which teachers work.

“Gauteng needs a comprehensive strategy of monitoring and reporting school safety and security issues – from classroom level up to governance levels that link directly with complementary government functions such as SA Police Service and social development.

“These structures and processes should involve pupils, teachers and community structures in responding to the information provided by the monitoring,” said Metcalfe.

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