Cape Town – Angry parents of children at Bulumko High School locked the school gates on Thursday after a series of gang incidents.
Pupils were unable to get to their classes at the Khayelitsha school after the gates were shut by parents who demanded something be done to rid the school of gangs.
Fundiswa Sigenu, mother of a grade 10 pupil, said her daughter had come home in shock on Wednesday after gangs invaded the school.
“My child couldn’t speak, she was wailing. She later told me that pupils who live in Town Two were fighting with those who live in J section. The fight had spilled to the schools and teachers ran to the staff room and locked themselves there.
“When teachers flee and lock themselves up for safety, what happens to our children who are not involved in this? Where can they hide and who will protect them?” Sigenu asked.
Shortly after the incident, around lunchtime on Wednesday, parents forced the school to close.
Jessica Shelver, spokeswoman for MEC for Education Debbie Schafer, said the department was aware of a stabbing outside the school last Friday.
“Contact was made with the principal (yesterday). He reported that the school was locked and the parents were outside. As a safety precaution, learners were sent home. The principal opened the gate and allowed about 50 parents to enter the premises to make their concerns heard.”
She said the police were responsible for community safety and crime control, so parents should “vent their anger to the appropriate authorities”.
“Disrupting their children’s education is not the answer as the only victims will be their very own children.”
On Thursday, at 11am, parents gathered at the school entrance while a police van parked across the road and pupils in uniform walked about.
Caretaker Loyiso Tyobeka said last year he moved his child from the school after what he described as “four years of ongoing violence”.
“The violence always escalates when it’s close to exam time.
“These children force their way into the school armed with pangas, sticks, golf clubs and guns. We can’t stop them. We need to sit down as a community to figure a way out of this.”
Two pupils told the Cape Argus they feared for their lives and their education was at stake.
Siphiwe Nathi, 16, a Grade 10 pupil said: “We don’t learn here any more. The focus has shifted from education to who is killing who. On Friday, a pupil was stabbed outside the school. This has become a norm here.”
Shelver said it was important the police addressed the matter urgently.
“We are concerned about any violence affecting our learners – be it inside the school premises or outside.
“We cannot however take responsibility for the safety of learners when they are outside the school grounds.”
Sinesipho Sidziya, 17 and in Grade 11, said: “When they start with the fighting the teachers run and often pupils are left to fend for ourselves.
“What is worse is that the reason for this fighting is unknown; the gangsters themselves don’t know why they are fighting.
“I fear I won’t make it to matric next year because of this fighting.”