Chris Ndaliso
Senior journalist
4 minute read
18 May 2022

Education department concerned as Durban teacher shot by robbers

Chris Ndaliso

Thuggery in schools is a social ill and the basic education department alone cannot help the situation without the community’s involvement.

Thuggery in schools is a social ill and the basic education department alone cannot help the situation without the community’s involvement.

This was said by KwaZulu-Natal Basic Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi following the shooting of a teacher at Sea Cow Lake Secondary School in Durban.

The teacher, Muzi Professor Zulu, survived the shooting.

Mahlambi said community members were culprits, as the same people would rob schools and then return to the communities to sell the stolen items.

Mahlambi said: 

“We are very troubled by this incident and unfortunately the department alone cannot guarantee the safety of both our children and the teachers. This teacher remained behind [at school] performing his duties after normal working hours, and this is what he had to go through at the hands of community members. It is people from that same community that rob local schools.”

Zulu had just invigilated grade 12 pupils who were writing a supplementary examination when he was accosted by three gunmen at the school on Friday.

School principal Mr Msweli referred The Witness to the chairperson of the School Governing Body (SGB) for comment.

The SGB chairperson Arthur Zwane said the safety and security of pupils and teachers was at risk.

He said more measures were needed to ensure their safety.

“There were three men in the car that gained access into the school yard as the security guard was patrolling,” said Zwane.

“He did not lock the gate and it was not anticipated that there would be thugs who would target the school. The teacher was shot in the … mouth and by the look of things, the bullet was meant to kill him,” said Zwane.

Zwane added: 

“The children were not affected because Zulu managed to push the men out of the class and it was only once [they were] outside that they shot him.”

“While this was happening, another man held the deputy principal up in the staff room and took a laptop and a handbag.

“I cannot share more information …” said Zwane.

On Tuesday, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) provincial secretary, Nomarashiya Caluza, said the incident had shaken the union and the basic education department in the province.

“This incident confirms the view and the concern Sadtu has that schools are no longer safe for teachers and learners. Safety in schools remains a problem, so it is easy for criminals to just get into schools and attack our teachers.

“Comrade Muzi, as a dedicated member, was having an afternoon class when his attackers charged at him in the classroom in full view of his learners. Teachers and learners were robbed of their possessions,” said Caluza.

She said the union has been calling on every member of society to protect teachers, learners, and education workers.

“Our schools are no longer safe, as teachers do not know whether they will be going back to their families every day they go to school.

“This has serious implications for quality teaching and learning. Sadtu understands the trauma currently affecting the staff, learners, and community of Sea Cow Lake Secondary School,” said Caluza.

Caluza added: 

“We can only appreciate the police for working hard in ensuring that they arrest the suspects. We hope for a successful prosecution.”

She explained that while the men were robbing the pupils and teachers, one person was holding staff in the staff-room at gunpoint while another man was waiting in the getaway car.

She said it was consoling that no lives were lost.

“How do we begin to trust that our children, our members will return home safe if we get to face situations like this?

“The security guards at the gate of any school simply register visitors not knowing that the visitors are actually criminals.

“This is horrifying and we only hope that the police will be able to apprehend these thugs. Security guards guard themselves so the law enforcement agencies need to work with us, the parents and the community to ensure that our schools are a safe place for our pupils and teachers,” said Caluza.