R50m safety boost for 18 high risk schools in Western Cape
Tammy Petersen, News24
Cape Town - Eighteen schools in the Western Cape will benefit from a R50m project aimed at increasing safety at high risk facilities.
The City of Cape Town and provincial government on Thursday launched the school resource officers (SRO) unit at Cedar High in Mitchells Plain.
The Rocklands school was part of the pilot project.
The unit is based on the US SRO model, explained mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.
"The members have the same equipment as a police officer – a vest, firearm, pepper spray and soon a stun gun – as well as all the powers of a policeman as they can search, seize and arrest," he said.
"But those are not the skills you want to apply to the learner. Those are reserved for the intruders into the school premises, but occasionally some of your bad people are your learners as well."
The officers will be responsible for access control, random searches, home visits, truancy interventions and after hours mentoring.
Their roles and responsibilities will include providing social support at schools, explained Mayor Patricia de Lille.
"Their role is a safety and social function because the SROs will also identify any children who need help, who are vulnerable and at risk," she said.
The primary objective of the unit is to create safer environments at schools and to build a better relationship between policing staff and young people in communities. The goal is to reduce crime committed by juveniles and young adults.
"By ensuring safer access to educational opportunities, we are playing our part in giving them a better chance at life," De Lille said.
Education MEC Debbie Schafer said she was pleased that the SROs will be providing extra security at the selected schools.
“It is unfortunate that we live in a society wracked by crime and violence, and an under-resourced police service. It is thus up to us to do what we can to provide a safe environment at our schools", she said.
The selected schools are primary schools and high schools. These are: Downville Primary, Iqhayiya High, Forest Heights High, Sizimisele High, John Ramsay High, Dr Nelson Mandela High, West Bank High, Bishop Lavis High, Silverstream High, ID Mkhize High, Crystal High, Phoenix High, Fairmount High, Woodlands High, Oscar Mpheta High, Lotus High, Leiden High and Tafelsig High.