The Gauteng Department of Education says it has lost more than R120m in theft at schools since the start of the 2019 academic year.
Theft, burglaries and vandalism have led to the loss of valuable resources that were meant to enhance the delivery of quality education to pupils, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said in a statement on Wednesday.
He said, at 256 schools in the province, there had been 262 cases of theft and vandalism reported, 187 of bullying, and 107 related to violence and assault.
In a breakdown of figures, the department said that, out of 15 districts in the province, Gauteng East was the most affected, losing more than R10.5m, while Ekurhuleni North was second, with losses of R4.2m due to theft and vandalism.
"We would like to appeal to members of the community to take ownership of their schools and declare war against criminals who are targeting schools. Learners must always focus on their education and avoid ill discipline," Lesufi said.
The department said, although it was receiving support from law enforcement agencies, it believed more could still be done by the agencies to bring education to the centre of their security and risk analysis. Lesufi said this would allow the department to focus on its mandate of teaching and learning.
In January, a state-of-the-art primary school was robbed in Tsakane, just a week after Lesufi opened the facility, News24 reported.
Items stolen included 185 tablets, eight laptops, two projectors, three desktop computers, a plasma TV and R500 in petty cash.