Newspaper clipping – The Daily News – 16 March 2010

Moves to curb school violence

Identity cards for pupils, patrols by parents and random searches have been proposed for a troubled Durban school rocked by a stabbing and concerns of drug peddling.

The tough measures at Sea Cow Lake Secondary School, which include expelling pupils found in possession of drugs or weapons, were hammered out at a meeting of parents.

They came in the wake of the stabbing of 16-year-old pupil Nhlanhla Xama, who was attacked by two men during a break after he refused to give them his cell-phone.

Parents have also called for more security guards to be deployed at the school to help keep out criminals.
“There is illegal drug peddling at the school and pupils walk in with weapons on the school premises,” said Mlungisi Ntombela, a district manager with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education.
“Parents decided that pupils found in possession of weapons and drugs should be expelled.”

Parents had also volunteered to patrol the school premises during school hours, he said, adding that the department was working closely with area police who had been granted permission to enter classrooms and conduct searches.

A safety and security committee comprising parents, members of the school governing body, teachers, pupils, department officials, police and the local community policing forum has been formed to tackle the school’s security problem.

The committee members will be responsible for conducting random classroom searches, searches at the school gate and patrolling during and after school hours.

Identity cards would also be introduced for pupils to wear on their school uniform to ascertain whether outsiders were posing as pupils, said Sea Cow Lake Secondary principal Wolaganathan Ponnan.
“Outside elements seem to be a problem in the surrounding environment and we need the support from the community,” Ponnan said.
“We have noticed the problem this year of outside people coming in wearing white shirts and grey school pants.”

Ponnan said future security measures could include the installation of metal detectors to check for weapons being brought into the school.

However, Nhlanhla’s mother, Makhosi Xama, who also attended the parents’ meeting, said the school could still do more to fight crime.
“To get to the bottom of the problem, an investigation has to be conducted into the drug peddling at the school,” Xama said.
“It needs to be clear who is selling them at the school and how the pupils are getting hold of them.”

Education MEC Senzo Mchunu said last week he was alarmed by the number of violent incidents in schools, not just in KZN but across the country. The formation of safety committees and youth desks and the recruitment of 2890 security guards were initiatives in place to help schools deal with spiraling crime, Mchunu said.

Other measures included linking schools with police stations.