Support has been pouring in for Heathfield High School with over 3 000 signatures in two weeks on a petition to re-fence the school in Consta Road.
Over the past few weeks the school had placard petitions to spread awareness of their dire need for the school to be re-fenced. Next year the school will be 60 years old and so will the deteriorated and trampled fence that currently only covers parts of the school periphery because there are huge sections of the fence missing.
Principal Wesley Neumann said the department is willing to patch up parts of the fence which will exclude the sports field and tennis courts.
School staff and pupils have been garnering support from the wider community to sign the petition to get the department to replace the fence surrounding the school and the sports grounds to ensure the safety of the school community from unwanted visitors.
Schools are to report incidents of burglary and vandalism, assault, violence, gangsterism, etc. to the Safe Schools call centre. The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) requires statistics to inform where interventions are most needed and where there is a safety risk.
“The school fence is porous and non-existent in certain areas along the boundary of the school and has not been replaced in 59 years. We have been on the waiting list for the past eight years for a new school fence,” said Mr Neumann.
He said the school had more than 20 burglaries last year: “A large contributing factor to this was easy access to the school premises because of the non-existence and ineffective school fence – resulting in more the
R450 000 in damages.
Mr Neumann said outsiders would come onto the school property daily, posing a threat to the pupils and teachers’ safety and said 13 pupils were stabbed last year.
He also referred to the school’s quintile classification, meaning the department gives less financial support to the school because of its location – which staff and the school governing body have opposed because most of the pupils come from disadvantaged homes.
“We only receive 45 percent of schoool fees, which is only R2985 per year,” said Mr Neumann. “On Thursday February 20 we decided to put out a petition to the community to support our efforts to secure a new fence and we hoped to present it to the department with at least 1 000 signatures within a month.”
Ward councillor and alumnus Kevin Southgate has been supporting the school’s initiatives and fund-raising efforts to get the fencing.
“There have been burglaries and pupils were attacked. The school has been asking for the re-fencing for the past eight years and it is imperative for the safety of all at the school that the fence be put up as a matter of urgency,” said Mr Southgate.
WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said schools have to report incidents of burglary, vandalism, assault, violence, gangsterism and other incidents to the Safe Schools centre.
She said the department requires these statistics to inform where interventions are most needed and where there is a safety risk: “We have looked at our records and can confirm that we have received zero reports for 2019 and 2020 for burglary and vandalism.
“In terms of incidents of stabbings, a parent informed Safe Schools that there was a stabbing incident in 2019. The call centre followed up and found that a fight had broken out where five learners received wounds. This was the only stabbing incident reported to the call centre in 2019. No incidents have been reported thus far this year,” said Ms Hammond.
Ms Hammond assured that the school will receive a new fence within the year.