MEC for Education Donald Grant launches hand held metal detectors project
14 Sep 2009
This morning, MEC for Education in the Western Cape Donald Grant launched the Western Cape Education Department's (WCED's) hand held metal detectors project at St Andrew's Secondary School in Elsies River.
The MEC, together with the department's Safe Schools Programme Director Nariman Khan and the acting head of education, Mr Brian Schreuder, handed out 14 metal detectors to seven schools in the province.
These schools included St Andrew's Secondary, Oscar Mpetha High School in Nyanga, Levana Primary in Lavender Hill, Glendale Secondary in Mitchells Plain, Blomvlei Primary in Hanover Park, Groenvlei Secondary in Lansdowne and Voorbrug Secondary in Delft.
The remaining 109 high risk schools in the province will receive hand held metal detectors in the coming weeks.
At the launch, the MEC said that in terms of section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, a learner has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their well-being.
"In order to create a safe and conducive learning environment for our learners, the WCED's safe schools programme has developed a three pronged strategy to tackle violence in our schools, which focuses on the safety of pupils, teachers, support staff and property," he said.
The use of metal detectors forms part of that strategy and is a way of improving existing safety measures at our schools. The MEC said that the first prong of the safe schools strategy was to maximize the use of physical security measures at schools which includes safety measures such as safety gates, burglar bars, alarms, perimeter patrols by community volunteers and armed response.
After my visit to St Andrew's last month, I, together with Nariman Khan from the safe schools programme, met with MEC for Community Safety Lennit Max and Commissioner Petros, to discuss the possibility of SAPS searches in our schools for illegal weapons and drugs. The South African Police Service (SAPS) has kept to their word and has since initiated these searches, which I believe, have acted as a strong deterrent to our learners. I would like to extend my thanks to Commissioner Petros, MEC Max and Director Roberts, for their support in this regard.
The MEC said that the second prong of the safe schools strategy was to implement behavioural and attitudinal programmes in our schools which include programmes in conflict management, trauma counselling, behaviour modification, human rights curriculum, entrepreneurial training, and sport and cultural activities.
Finally, the third prong of the safety strategy involves system-wide changes in the content or operation of the school. This includes leadership and management training, organisational development, community relations and effective governance. The MEC said that it was important to note that the department is trying to find a balance between crime control and crime prevention.
Prevention is better then a cure. However, in light of the current state of violence in our schools, the use of metal detectors is needed, and will, together with other existing safety measures, deter learners from bringing dangerous weapons to school.
"He said that in accordance with Government Notice 22754 (No.1040), all schools are declared dangerous object free zones.
The hand held metal detectors, which form part of the first prong of the safety strategy, will assist schools in carrying out random searches if they suspect that learners are carrying dangerous objects to schools," he said.
We believe this is a non-intrusive way of making sure no weapons are brought on the school premises, and will encourage learners to act as responsible citizens.
He said that the search would include a manual or technical search of personal possessions, including items the individual may be carrying and any coat or jacket the person has been requested to remove.
If there is a possible indication of contraband, the person doing the scan will ask the learner or person to declare the object that may have set off the alarm. They will then inform the individual that further searching is required; and then will inform the school principal or school safety officer.
Grant said that body searches may only be conducted by the principal or his/her delegate(s), who must be of the same gender as the learner being searched.
Any dangerous object or illegal drug that has been seized from learners must be correctly and clearly labelled with full particulars of the learner and the confiscated object or illegal drugs, and handed over to the police, who in turn will issue the principal or his delegate with an official receipt. A learner may be subjected to disciplinary proceedings if any dangerous object has been seized from them.
The MEC said that if a learner or person refuses to voluntarily cooperate during a non-intrusive search, the designated person conducting the search may prohibit access to the person and/or contact the school office for advice, or notify the SAPS sector commander or armed response.
It is important to note that the searches take place in accordance with amendments to the South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act 84 of 1996), as promulgated in the Education Law Amendment Act of 2007: Dangerous objects and illegal drugs.
The MEC encouraged all schools to regularly remind learners that schools are dangerous object and drug free zones.
I have said before that we are going to take a zero tolerance approach towards violent behaviour in our province's schools. We are repeating that message today violence and drugs in our schools will not be tolerated.
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Issued by: Western Cape Education
14 Sep 2009
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