There have been 403 incidents of vandalism, burglary and destruction of schools across several South African provinces since the start of the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, according to the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, who has condemned the criminal activity.
The damage of school property includes torching of schools, the theft of learning as well as teaching equipment, including Information communication technology equipment.
The breakdown of the vandalism in schools is as follows: Mpumalanga 73; Gauteng 67; Western Cape 63; North West 55; Northern Cape 39; KwaZulu-Natal 34; Limpopo 30; Eastern Cape 26; and Free State 16.
“It is really unfortunate that criminals in our communities could destroy the infrastructure of their own children. We applaud the work done by the Police and we hope that more arrests will be made. We want to see the arrest and prosecution of every single criminal responsible for this kind of behaviour,” the minister said in a statement on Friday.
Police in Gauteng have thus far arrested 44 suspects, including those found in possession of stolen property linked to school break-ins in the province. Two arrests were made in the last 24 hours in KwaZulu-Natal in connection with the break-ins.
“These criminals must be reported to the police immediately. Let us work together to safeguard the future of our children by exposing these criminal elements,” she said.
The minister said communities were meant to be caretakers of the infrastructure that government had put in place for the education of children.
“The damage caused due to the torching and theft in the schools will have a negative impact on the implementation of the recovery plan once the lockdown is lifted. Provincial Education Departments have reported an alarming number of schools that have been vandalized.
“In all the burglaries learning and teaching equipment has been stolen together with other expensive items. The most common target areas in the schools are the administration blocks for ICT equipment and the nutrition centres for the food items,” the Department of Basic Education said. – SAnews.gov.za