South Africa: Bandits Force 10 Eastern Cape Schools to Close

5 December 2023

Ten public schools in Nelson Mandela Bay have been closed and educators and staff moved elsewhere to continue lessons after the schools were robbed at gunpoint and two principals shot at by criminals.

Provincial education department spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said criminals were targeting schools because they were less crowded at this time of the year.

"These planned robberies occur while schools are busy with schedules, marking and finalisation of administrative issues including registration of new classes for next year. Due to these larcenies, educators and staff have lost laptops, cellular phones and other personal belongings." Mtima said.

He added that meetings were held among the district, the school governing bodies and school management teams to determine the viability of school functionality under the circumstances.

"The department did this to determine the safety of these teams, but once these meetings confirmed that their safety had been compromised, a movement became a necessity."

The department said this was a temporary measure to protect staff from being vulnerable to criminal elements.

Education MEC Fundile Gade called upon parents and the Gqeberha community to protect all government facilities.

"All government institutions and facilities are under attack in Gqeberha. We are sensitising society and parents of this shame, as this seeks to derail the progress made to date. Therefore, we urge the people of Gqeberha to get involved and work with the law enforcement agencies to protect government facilities in the Metro including our schools," urged Gade.

The schools that have been moved are clubbed together in different school halls in town to ensure the finalisation of preparation for the next academic year, while averting making schools soft targets.

Mtima said a programme to protect these schools has been developed with police to ensure their visibility in the areas identified as critical for support.

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