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Media Release

Tuesday, 12 March, 2002

Moves to counter gangsterism in Manenberg

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Minister of Education.

The Western Cape Education Department and South African Police Services are taking additional steps to counter gang activity affecting Phoenix Secondary School in Manenberg.

Two weeks ago two gang-members jumped over the fence around Phoenix Secondary School, Manenberg, and stabbed a learner on the school premises. The principal took the learner to hospital.

On Thursday last week, gang-members returned, entered a classroom and assaulted some learners in it. When the teacher who was present tried to intervene, the gangsters threatened her life. She called in her union as she very understandably felt unsafe.

On Friday last week a meeting was held with the teachersí unions, the local SAPS, my Departmentís Safe Schools unit, the schoolís circuit manager, and a senior official from the WCEDís district office responsible for Phoenix.

At this meeting it was agreed that the following steps will be taken:

  • The SAPS will move the local Operation Slasher stronghold closer to Phoenix (Operation Slasher is the police unit which responds to gang-related activity).
  • A police reservist will patrol and make regular contact with the school.
  • The SAPS will meet gang-members to call for a peace talk.
  • The WCEDís Safe Schools unit will investigate ways in which to make the Safe Schools cluster system in the area more effective.
  • The Safe Schools unit will offer Phoenix sustainable developmental programmes, such as training educators in gang dynamics, and how to deal with learners who are involved with gangs.

As an interim measure, two emergency security guards have been stationed at the school and will be on the school premises during school hours until the end of the first quarter. They will be linked via radio to an armed response unit that will make regular patrols.

This incident highlights the appalling circumstances in which too many of our learners and educators have to battle to keep education going. We will continue working with the police, the school and the local community to find ways of dealing with the scourge of gangsterism.

Enquiries: André Gaum 082-772-6608.

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
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