The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) has raised concerns over escalating violence in Gauteng schools among pupils affiliated with gangs.
This comes amid a number of reported fights and stabbings, with some learners even attacking educators.
Tshiamo Matlaweng, a Grade 10 learner at a school north of Johannesburg, says when she was in Grade 8, there was always a group of girls fighting with her and other learners.
“I got in a lot of fights with some girls, I think (because) of jealousy. They talk a lot about me.”
Tshiamo says she feels the level of violence in schools has spiraled out of control and educators can’t manage the situation.
“They come from different backgrounds. Some are abused at home. So they take out their anger at school by fighting with other kids and fighting with teachers. I feel like the teachers are overwhelmed and they can’t do anything at this point. The learners are getting out of hand. They fight a lot and put the blame on the parents because the parents can’t discipline their kids.”
Three-year-old Kearabetswe Ngoepe has also witnessed violence at pre-school.
Nkateko Sithole from Cosas in Gauteng is calling for intervention.
“We have been having a number of gangsterism growth and violence in our schools. We need a department that is an action-taker. Us, here in public schools, keep being victims of violence and gangsterism because we don’t have proper security. So, our call is that people in CPF structures must be trained to become proper security personnel so that they will guard and look after our schools.”
Hansraj Mitha, from a youth organisation called Vuka Shokho, visits schools in Johannesburg for workshops to try and ascertain what issues learners are dealing with.
“The learners are like on what I can call an uprise. Its appearing in a form of violence, bullying, suicide, as well as victimization. And this is what they are picking up from their external environment. They are exposed to. Growing up in townships and informal settlements, they see what adults are doing, and there is an element of them that is unsettled. “
Mitha says they spend time with the learners, talking to them about their values and dreams, and even introducing them to meditation to help them manage anger.
“This is not what I want, this is not who I am. As young as they are, they have a sense of purpose. When our external environment is not in line with our core values, we start retaliating and rebelling. The sad part is that our parents can give us what they have received, yet we don’t want our kids to be like us and we want a better life for them, but we can’t because of the lack of finances and resources. We do circle healing dialogues with the learners. I wanted the learners to experience the concept of who am I, and what is it that I need to find myself.”
Cosas has also called on police to start patrolling around the schools, especially during examination periods.