As the sun rises over the sprawling townships of Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, Eastern Cape, South Africa, the usual hustle and bustle of school life is ominously absent.
A series of ruthless robberies has forced the education department to take drastic action, closing schools and relocating teachers to safer locations in the city center to complete their end-of-year tasks.
The Rampant Robberies
At least ten schools have fallen prey to the criminal activities, their sanctity violated by the unwelcome intrusion of robbers.
School principals have been targeted with violence, being shot at on two separate occasions. The teachers, too, have not been spared, with many losing personal belongings in the attacks.
A Department's Response
Amid escalating security concerns, the education department, under the spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima, has provided psychosocial support to the affected teachers, acknowledging not just the material but the emotional toll of the incidents.
The department's initiative extends beyond immediate relief measures, with plans for a multi-stakeholder meeting already in motion. This meeting, involving the department, South African Police Service (SAPS), community policing forums, and civil society organizations, aims to devise a robust resolution to combat the security crisis.
Securing the Future
While the discussions are yet to take place, a protection program has already been established, designed in cooperation with the police. This program seeks to enhance police visibility and support in critical areas, providing a much-needed safeguard to the educational facilities.
The end goal is clear: to restore the sanctity of these schools and ensure the safety of the educators and students who inhabit them.