First and foremost, the IFP is against destruction of property. Those found guilty of burning and vandalising infrastructure must be punished severely, as this damage results in government institutions having to spend colossal sums of money on repairs. We want to state clearly that hooligans have no place in schools. Unfortunately, it seems that people emulate an old tactic used in the past by the ANC to communicate its frustrations: through the burning of infrastructure.
The IFP President Emeritus and Founder, His Excellency, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP once wrote:
“When I think back to the June 1976 student uprisings, I remember clearly how the ANC urged students to destroy schools as a way of protest. I warned them against this strategy, cautioning that once it became inculcated in the minds of the population, it would be impossible to reverse.
But they forged ahead. The children who destroyed school buildings were lionised as heroes, and the stoning of police was hailed as acts of bravery. Thus, one generation taught the next.
Now this generation wants the “old guard” to step aside so they themselves can correct the wrongs of the past. The difficulty is that, without education, it is well-nigh impossible to leverage positive social transformation. Education remains the key to freedom and progress.”
Sadly, it is clear that now the chickens have come home to roost.
The IFP condemns the burning of classrooms at Ndengetho High School, as well as the torching of an acting Deputy Principal’s car at Northbury Park Secondary School in Northdale, Pietermaritzburg, by a Grade 10 pupil after his cellphone was confiscated.
In both cases, the IFP believes that serious questions must be asked: how did learners at Ndengetho High School manage to bring cellphones, weapons, and drugs to school; how did the learner at Northbury Park Secondary School manage to bring his cellphone and petrol to burn a car to school? Where were the security guards who are tasked with searching learners on a daily basis? This indicates that security measures in schools are failing.
The IFP has – on numerous occasions – called for metal detectors, CCTV cameras and security personnel to be available at all schools to ensure the safety of learners, staff, and school personnel. In addition, this would hopefully deter learners and visitors from bringing weapons to school.
These incidents clearly indicate that the KZN Department of Education has failed to address the issue of poor safety in schools.
The MEC for Education, Mbali Frazer, must take the blame for her failure to increase security measures in our schools. The question of cost may arise, but can one put a price on the lives and the safety of learners and staff?
The KZN Department of Education has stated that they had an agreement with the police, which was signed more than a decade ago, which governed safety and security at schools. However, questions remain: When and how do police conduct their search and seizure operations in schools? In which schools are these search and seizure operations conducted? We believe that if police are active in conducting search and seizure operations on a daily basis, learners would not bring weapons and drugs to school.
Somewhere, somehow, someone is failing to do their job.
The physical damage to school buildings is the most obvious effect of fire damage, which could seriously compromised or even destroy school infrastructure. However, this type of damage may also result in buildings being uninhabitable for an extended period of time, forcing the school to find alternative locations to hold classes. If this is not possible, schools have to temporarily transfer learners to other schools until the fire damage has been repaired.
While the IFP acknowledges the negative impact caused by the burning of school buildings, this issue must be widened to include the service delivery protests which also often result in people burning and vandalising infrastructure. Here, government must be held accountable, particularly as they have resorted to a “laissez-faire” attitude when people complain about lack of service delivery. Unfulfilled and broken promises make people angry, and government takes too long to respond or attend to grievances.
The IFP believes that we must conduct a thorough assessment of the reasons for learners and community members destroying public property when they are aggrieved. This issue must be interrogated. If we don’t, we are fighting a losing battle.
The IFP hopes that the Safety Indaba will not just be another talk shop, but that it will bring about real solutions, and real change. It must produce more resolutions and provide a platform where stakeholders can be bold and step out of their comfort zones. It must deliver a compact that will enjoin them to take decisive steps in preventing destruction of property and to make schools safe.
We must take a collective stand against destruction of community property, such as schools.
When the Department of Education diverts funds to cover unfunded mandates, such as to rebuild or repair of burnt-down schools, the Department is then unable to provide resources to needy schools.
As the IFP, we are saying that if learners and community members destroy property – like schools – they must be held accountable, and rebuild or repair the damage caused, at their own cost. Government cannot carry these costs. A no-nonsense approach is needed if we want to put an end to this hooliganism.
Abazali kubalulekile ukuthi nabo babambe iqhaza ezinhlelweni ezifana nalezi kanjalo namakhosi. Abazali abayeke ukuvuna izingane zabo uma zithinteka ezenzweni ezingalungile ngoba iningi labazali bavele babhoke ngolaka bathi izingane zabo ziyasukelwa uma zisolwa.
I thank you!!