South African Schools Shut Down from Gang Violence
Fourteen schools in Manenburg, an impoverished South African province near Cape Town will be closed the next two days due to teachers feeling unsafe and uneasy about leaving children unsupervised. The area has seen a huge spike in gun violence from neighboring gangs. A gang member was shot in the school playground and the school’s caretaker was shot a few weeks ago while on shift. The school shutdown will affect 12,000 students.
At least 50 people have been reported to have been wounded or killed from gang violence in Cape Town’s Manenberg suburb in recent weeks. One of the killed was one man who was identified by fellow members as belonging to a gang called the Americans. Another was a caretaker at one of the schools, who was killed by a stray bullet from gang violence hit a primary school around that time as well.
Western Cape Provincial Premier Helen Zille has asked the national government to send in the army to help overwhelmed police, although the police are opposed assistance from military personnel. However, Zille stated, “The presence of the army would give the police the space to conduct investigations and ensure gang members responsible for this violence are brought to justice.” The decision to close the schools was made after consulting teachers. The safety of the young learners in Manenberg has been threated and some of the school districts educators haven’t reported to school, but to the metro central district office for duty.
Western Cape Provincial government leaders would met with a representative group teachers to discuss a way forward. The department directed a large about of resources and support to Manenberg since the outbreak of gang violence. While the educational department is doing all it can, it is unfortunately unable to ensure peace and safety within the community. The schools and the department are relying on the police to maintain order.
Police spokesman Col. Tembinkosi Kinana said the gang violence in Manenberg is “undoubtedly bad” as long as people are being killed. Police personnel have been deployed and there is a strategy in place to combat gang violence. The Western Cape government has not been approached by the national police to help deal with the problem.