187 teachers attacked in the past three years in Western Cape
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Cape Town - At least 187 teachers in the Western Cape have been attacked inside the school premises over the last three years.
A total of 94 incidents were reported in 2018, 73 in 2019 and 20 in 2020. The attacks which varied from serious to minor, were perpetrated by other staff members, learners, and the general public.
Since the start of this academic year, to date, nine incidents with one death of a teacher were reported.
Thulani Manqoyi, a Grade 6 Heinz Park Primary School teacher in Philippi was shot dead last month while sitting inside his car in the school parking lot.
Spokesperson for Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, Kerry Mauchline, said of the nine cases reported this year, six incidents were perpetrated by learners.
“Three serious incidents in 2020 involved teachers being assaulted with weapons such as bricks or steel poles, and which resulted in serious injuries (blunt force trauma). This also traumatised the teachers and they required further psychological support. The circumstances that give rise to violence are complex and varied, so it is difficult to generalise to all cases.”
She said, however, decreased interactions due to school closures and rotating timetables might have played a role in the decline in 2020 and 2021.
“The WCED has also put considerable effort into violence prevention in schools, training, reporting mechanisms and physical safety measures,” said Mauchline.
Teacher union Naptosa’s executive director Basil Manuel said the incidents were serious infringements on the workspace of teachers.
“We are not surprised by the number of incidents coming from the Western Cape because other provinces have similar stats. This has a two-fold impact which includes fear for the teachers who are intimidated because often we find some of the attacks are not random they have basis.
“Very often it is about learners and gangs protecting learners which gives them a certain bravado which leads to a deficit of respect. Then you will see that the same learners also bully their classmates.”
Manuel said due to few consequences and measures taken to keep schools safer, the behaviour continues.
Sanco provincial secretary Bheki Hadebe said: “We are mindful of the fact that security alone is not a panacea to the current challenges in our schools. However, it’s a necessary and an urgent short-term intervention in curbing the current violence, and in this regard, the WCED has been failing to ensure safety in our schools.”
ANC MPL Khalid Sayed accused Schäfer of withholding paramount information and evading accountability through technicalities.
“The MEC is running away from the fact that our schools are not safe, criminals gain easy access through broken fences and attack learners and educators. Majority of schools don't have CCTV cameras and the WCED has refused to beef up security at our schools.”
Sayed said Schäfer had allegedly signed a R1 billion deal to rent offices for her department - an amount that could address security challenges in schools.
Schäfer said: “I do not sign leases, the lease that has been signed is cheaper than the former accommodation for our department officials, and for much better quality premises. We provide the best support we can as regards safety, and he (Sayed) needs to explain how we provide extra facilities and support without money, as the ANC has wasted and stolen so much of it, which is causing immense pressure on us as a provincial government.”