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Schoolkids revolt against anti-drugs campaign

By Doreen Mokgolo

Duduza secondary school learners and parents have revolted against a group of volunteers stationed at their schools to fight gangsterism, drugs and other forms of ill-discipline.

They disrupted teaching and threw stones at school premises on Tuesday and Wednesday. Teachers had to move their cars.

The conflict started just over a month ago. Principals from four secondary schools in the area complained about gangs of learners terrorising teachers and other school children. They cited an assault on a teacher and students being late for school, refusing to do school work and not wearing school uniforms.

Drugs are said to be a major problem in these schools, with learners taking drugs in school bathrooms.

Thirty days ago a group, consisting of members of the Saps, the community police forum (CPF) and concerned residents of this East Rand township, responded to the call for protection by the headmasters.

They started carrying out searches on school premises and began anti-drug campaigns, during which they would go on raids at supposed drug dens.

During surprise visits at the schools they found a gun, knives and drugs.

On Monday morning the anti-gang volunteers took a group of 15 learners from Esibonelwesihle Secondary School, identified to be part of a gang group called “Ambush”, to an open veld, where they allegedly assaulted them.

The youngsters were allegedly forced to take off their T-shirts and one had to assault his fellow learners on their backs with a belt while they were kneeling.

Deputy chairperson of the school’s governing body, Beauty Moloi, said she knows that some of the learners are rebellious and bring drugs to school.

“In the previous raids that we carried out we indeed found weapons and drugs. What we are against is the group assaulting our children.

“We were also told that the volunteers are there to protect the teachers from the violence from being attacked by the learners. Why can’t the teachers protect each other?” she said.

Another parent and deputy chairperson of the local CPF, Bongi Hlalele, said as parents they were never informed about the operation.

“There are different ways to punish the learners and that should have been done in consultation with parents,” she added.

A secondary school principal, who asked not be named, said that ever since the anti-drug initiative was rolled out at his school they no longer have a problem with drugs and gangsterism.

“We have seen the success of the programme in our school, but we are now hearing about some of the extreme measures they use to discipline the learners,” he said.

Duduza police spokesperson, Sgt Noluthando Mahlangu, said they are urging learners and parents to refrain from vandalising the school infrastructure.

“We are pleading to the injured learners to open criminal cases with the police and allow the law to take its course,” he said.

Pictured above: Duduza secondary school

Image source: Doreen Mokgolo

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