131 schools in Nelson Mandela Bay robbed, mostly at gunpoint, in five months

Many teachers are afraid to report for duty

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A teacher at KwaZakhele High School in Gqeberha recalled how criminals came into their staff room and robbed all the teachers at gunpoint. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

  • The Eastern Cape Department of Education has allocated an additional R59-million to bump up security at schools in the province.
  • Since November 131 schools in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro have been robbed, many at gunpoint.
  • Many teachers say they are afraid to report for duty.

Since November, 131 schools in the Nelson Mandela Bay region have been robbed, Eastern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima told GroundUp. Most of these have been at gunpoint.

The provincial Department of Education has issued a statement, declaring several areas within the municipality “hotspots” and has allocated millions of rands to improve security at these and other schools. The department said the crime hotspots were in the northern areas of KwaZakhele, Zwide, and Motherwell in Gqeberha.

According to the police, the latest incident happened outside Elufefeni Primary School in NU7, Motherwell, when schools just opened last week.

Police spokesperson Andre Beetge said, “A vehicle hijacking took place in Mzwazwa Street (at the gate of Elufefeni). It is alleged that a few teachers at the school, arriving in a grey Kia SUV, were waiting for the gate to be unlocked when they were approached by three armed suspects.”

Beetge said the robbers took the teachers’ personal belongings and their car. “The vehicle was later found abandoned a block away. A case of hijacking is being investigated.”

In Kariega, police spokesperson Priscilla Naidu confirmed that at least three incidents of robberies at gunpoint last month at Phaphani and Tinarha High Schools, as well as Mjuleni primary school in KwaNobuhle township.

At KwaZakhele High School in Gqeberha, which has been repeatedly robbed, a teacher who asked not to be named said robbers were very young. The school has about 1,076 learners.

“These robbers are as young as our learners,” she said.

“They come in groups of three to five on busy days when non-teaching staff like security guards won’t notice. In 2019, they made off with our belongings such as wrist watches, chains, necklaces, cellphones and laptops. Last year, they came to the staff room.

“They pulled out guns, demanded our personal belongings, and left with them. I thought it was a joke, assuming that they were carrying toys, because they were as young as learners,” she said.

Outgoing chairperson of the School Governing Body at the school, Phumzile Vena, said some teachers were thinking of quitting because they no longer feel safe even behind the school’s gates. He said after a recent robbery only 9 of the 30 teachers had returned to school after the robbery.

“Teachers say if the situation is not improved, they will find work elsewhere,” he said.

Education MEC Fundile Gade last week told the media that his department had allocated R59-million to upgrade security at schools in the 2024/2025 financial year. An additional 1,000 security guards will be hired, he said, as well as 350 administrative staff and 24 assistant social workers will also be employed as part of the plan to make schools safer.

“We are going to install surveillance cameras, access control systems, alert buttons that are linked to the police stations, as well as fences to make sure our schools are safe,” said Gade.

TOPICS:  Crime Education

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