Learning and teaching at Strelitzia Primary School in Port Elizabeth’s Northern Areas came to a halt on Thursday.

Disgruntled parents refused to take their children to school because of safety concerns related to gang shootings.

The parents were picketing calling on the provincial department of education to intervene.

This comes at the same time while Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, is meeting with school principals to discuss best ways to make teaching environment conducive.

School children are often caught in the cross-fire of gang violence. Parents say they want a new fence as the existing fencing is not enough to keep gangsters out of the school premises.

Some parents of learners attending the school say: “Today is not the first time. We are coming together over this situation and the sad part is this is all we can do keep our children home safe. As parents, all we are begging the department for is proper fencing, that’s all. That’s all we want for our children and their teachers to be safe.”

While the school understands the safety concerns, the matter seems to be out of their hands. School principal, Clifton Janjies, says they have since escalated the grievance to the provincial Department of Education.

“We can merely respect their decision and we must just plan accordingly and make sure that we are ready for when these children come back to school that there is extra work that is made up. We are not at loggerheads, we are not fighting each other; we have the same concern because the safety is for the teachers as well.”

Strelitzia Primary School, with the help of an organisation, has also submitted a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

The department of safety and Community Policing Forum will have to be roped in.