On Monday night, a group of criminals tied up two patrollers and locked them in a room before stealing all 185 learner tablets, teacher laptops and data projectors, among other new equipment.
The R105 million state-of-the-art paperless school was unveiled amid much fanfare by Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and Premier David Makhura on Wednesday last week.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) says teaching and learning will continue at the school, despite the recent break-in.
Sadtu site steward at the school, Siyabonga Mthetwa says the burglary is a setback.
“We are so devastated by this. There were a few things that were targeted at our school, the laptops and the tablets. The only thing that is painful is that these kids are coming from poorest and they had the opportunity to learn and explore tablets and laptops. And they had the opportunity to explore and get the world class education since this was a paperless school. Since these things were stolen, we will go back to square one. We will use papers and stuff. We will improvise as teachers. We don’t know what to do but we will continue with teaching and learning.”
Parents of the learners at the school say poor security must be blamed for the break-in. At the time of the incident, there were only two unarmed community patrollers guarding the school. Despite the fact that the school is equipped with CCTV cameras, the thieves couldn’t be identified as they also stole the hard-drives of the CCTV system.
Parents say the Department of Education needs to tighten security to prevent any further incidents.
“My son is doing Grade 7. It’s going to be difficult for them. All of the Grade 7’s and the teachers as well, because they don’t have textbooks. They were using tablets, but now they took all the tablets. They took everything. So, now we are not safe here. The security is too poor, especially during the day. There’s nobody here. We feel very sad because this thing is very, very, very bad. The Department of Education was supposed to put a tight security.”
Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi says from now on, security details at schools must be kept secret. Lesufi says criminals may have got the information during the handover, when he explained the schools security measures.
“I was advised by my security team that MEC the problem with you is that you even tell media our security features and there are some people that are listening and watching and in the process they will do the opposite. So, let me adhere to that advice because I ignored them when we launched Menzi and I explained the CCTVs. I explained the alarms, the volts and other thing and that’s exactly what happened.”
However, the community of Langaville says it suspects that the criminals who broke into the school obtained information on security measures from an employee of the school.
Community leader, Mxolisi Zihle says they believe the break-in was an inside job.
“The community, they know who is doing this because the security here in the school, no one can know if somebody comes from outside. They can’t know what the security is carrying here. And how can they go inside here in the school without the person who knows everything about this school? The people who came here in the school know what’s happening in the school. And those people are people in school every time.”
The Gauteng Education Department will engage the Community Safety Department to review security measures at all schools in the province.
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