Brazen thieves strike primary school again

Thieves broke through the ceiling to get to overhanging cables.

Montagu’s Gift Primary School, in Lotus River, has been a target for break-ins twice in two weeks and the latest one was on Thursday February 23.

The teachers and pupils were picketing in front of the school on Friday February 24, to bring awareness to the community about their misfortune where copper wires were stolen and damages worth R100 000 were added to their trauma.

Reginald Gabriel, principal, said the break-ins at the school led to the protest and security has been put in place. “Last night (Thursday) there was a break-in where the burglars forced their way through the burglar bars of six of our administration rooms. They must have used a small person to slip through the bars.”

He said the robbery hit them in a “big way as the copper wires were stolen and they destroyed phones and intercoms as well as our copy machine.”

He said last week they broke into four of their classrooms. “They damaged the alarm system so they came back.
“The Western Cape Education Department organised a temporary security.

He said the school accommodates 514 pupils.

Millicent Merton, spokesperson for Western Cape Education Department (WCED), said: “I can confirm that the school has been burgled and vandalised. The school has been granted emergency security while further assessments and recommendations are being made.

“The Circuit Manager invited local leaders to help combat the spate of vandalism and break-ins at the school.

“Schools are safest where local communities play an active role in helping to look after them. We also ask every community member to help their schools by participating in neighbourhood watches and immediately reporting any suspicious behaviour in and around our schools to the police.”

Reverend Paul Phillips, community leader, said he is concerned about the break-ins and the “heavy losses the school suffered due to yet another break- in. The principal’s office, secretary office and staff room were targeted. Staff and pupils took to the streets to voice their frustration.

“The vandalisation and destruction/losses of valuable resources from the school have now become a norm and it seems like an abnormal situation becoming a systematic problem which cannot be overcome.

“This trend affects the quality of education for pupils and it is demoralising for educators and contributes greatly towards the schools’ underperformance.”

He said the schools are valuable assets in the community and should be treated and seen as such, “thus we totally condemn and speak out against any criminal act such as the vandalisation and destruction of our schools.

“We call on the relevant authorities to address concerns raised, to come up with a long term sustainable plan to make the school fully functional and not only respond to problems and challenges on a short term basis, but to be pro-active in addressing such.”