Education, Safety & Security Departments on Gangsterism in Western Cape Schools: briefing

Basic Education

18 June 2002
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


18 June 2002

Chairperson: Prof. S Mayatula

Documents handed out:
WCED Safety at Schools In Western Cape: Impact of Gangsterism on Schooling Slide Presentation
Gangsterism: Impact on Schools and Schooling (Appendix 1)
Report on Impact and Steps Taken on Gangsterism in Western Cape Schools (Appendix 2)

Western Cape MEC for Education and MEC for Safety and Security presented their departments' strategies to fight the prevalent gangsterism and violence in township schools in the Western Cape. They both emphasised a synergistic approach towards solving the problem through inter-sectoral, inter-departmental and inter-governmental co-operation. They shared the view that the problem needed urgent attention and that both short term and long term measures should be simultaneously applied for effective results. The discussion also emphasised a synergistic and multidimensional approach towards the problems. Gangsterism and violence in schools was viewed as a symptom of our socio-economic problems of squalor and moral degradation.

The Chairperson introduced the meeting by stating that the presentations were a necessary exercise following the presentation by the Cape Professional Teacher's Association to the committee on the scourge of violence and gangsterism in the Cape Flats schools.

Western Cape MEC for Education, Adv. Gaum
Adv. Gaum, argued that socio-economic factors such poverty, dysfunctional families and deprivation were responsible for the situation of gangsterism in schools. He reckoned that children get involved with gangsters because that is where they think they will find protection and material satisfaction. He also listed and explained four types of gangs. The last part of his presentation was an outline of the Safe Schools Campaign which he said was comprehensive and included every sphere of the public and the private sector.

Western Cape MEC for Safety and Security, Mr Ramatlakane
Mr Ramatlakane expressed his support for the Safe Schools Campaign. He said that there was a co-operative approach between his department and that of Adv. Gaum in solving the problem of gangsterism. He listed some projects that were initiated by the Department of Community Safety. He emphasised that the projects were preventative and not only focusing on schools but making schools part of the communities that were protected by the projects' initiatives

Mr. Ntuli (DP) commented that there was too much emphasis on short term measures to fight gangsterism and violence in schools and that very little attention was given to long terms measures.

Mr. Ramatlakane explained that the Urban Renewal Project and the synergistic interdepartmental approach to safety in schools would ensure a sustainable solution. He also added that there was need to shift the mind set of the affected communities away from conflictual relationships towards a co-operative and human rights culture.

Mr. Ntuli (DP) asked if there was any comparative research that investigated into the peculiar causal factors towards violence and gangsterism in Western Cape communities.

Mr. Ramatlakane had no idea if such a study was conducted. He however indicated that drug trafficking and money laundering were common trends around the world.
Adv. Gaum stated that since our national borders had become more porous there had been a surge in cross border criminal activities.

Mr. Van den Heever (ANC) argued that both short and long term measures to fight against violence and gangsterism in township schools should be undertaken simultaneously. Later on Mr. Kgwele reiterated Mr. Van den Heever's point of concurrently dealing with long and short term interventions. Mr. Ramatlakane and Adv. Gaum agreed to the practicality and urgency of developing strategies that would serve both short term and long term measures at once.

Mr. Van den Heever (ANC) needed clarity on the presence of the army or police on affected schools' premises.

Mr. Ramatlakane said that the presence of the army or police in schools would be discussed with the Minister of Safety and Security first. Adv. Gaum later added that what was clear was that the presence of the army in schools would be made in such way as to not give the public the impression of schools as sites of war.

Mr. Aucamp (AEB) said that civil society needed to be strengthened to contribute against fighting gansterism in schools. He asked if the Departments of Education and Safety and Security had included religious groups as part of moral regeneration and strengthening of civil society.

Mr. Ramatlakane commented that religious organisations had a moral authority to assist in fighting gangsterism in schools. He agreed that they had included religious organisations and that it would only be in the long run to attest to the effectiveness thereof.

Adv. Gaum agreed too that religious organisations were included and added that there were programmes to teach pupils and parents on the personal and public detriments of drugs and gangsterism.

Prof. Ripinga (ANC) commented that the problem of gangsterism needed sustainable strategies that would tackle the underlying causes rather than symptoms. How visible were communities in the fight against gangsterism in schools.

Mr. Ramatlakane agreed on the need for sustainable strategies and indicated that communities were involved in the form of protest marches.

Adv. Gaum added that systems programme aspect of the Safe Schools Programme included NGO's and community based organisations. They also gave some example of communities (e.g. Vredendal) that participated in protest marches against violence and gangsterism.

Mr. Kgwele (ANC) asked if the Department of Education had any concrete plans to develop sports, arts and culture for the youth. He asked if there were any plans to establish a Western Cape provincial youth commission that might help in dealing with the sceptre of gangsterism and violence in the township schools of Western Cape.

Adv. Gaum pointed out that there was very little progress on developing recreational facilities for the youth. On the subject of a youth commission he said that it would be discussed with the Western Cape Premier.

Mr. Kgwele (ANC) asked what was the role of teachers in helping to fight gangsterism. Later during the meeting Mr. Mpontshane (IFP) asked a similar question about the role of school governing bodies and the civic organisations that were very effective in the fight against apartheid. He emphasised that organisations such as COSAS needed to be challenged to face the issue instead of channelling their energies on disruptive campaigns.

Adv. Gaum strongly agreed that it was time civil organisations displayed the same spirit of militancy during the struggle against apartheid and he wholly agreed with Mr. Mpontshane that COSAS was supposed to be spearheading strategies to protect schools against gangsterism. He added that school governing bodies were bound by the South African Schools Act to protect schools.

Mr. Mpontshane (IFP) needed explanation on whether he was correct to have interpreted Mr. Ramatlakane's point that some legislation and policies prevented police to immediately intervene in violent situation. Mr. Ramatlakane explained that what he was trying to say was that police needed to navigate through the complexity of legislation and policies so that their actions would not be unconstitutional or breach the law.

Mr. Douglas (IFP) asked if Operation Slasher was not just another operation but an effective one. Adv. Slasher and Mr. Ramatlakane said that the Operation was a special unit to fight against gangsterism in the Cape Flats and believed it would be effective because it also included capacity building in the form of training civil servants who were fighting gangsterism in the Cape Flats.

Ms Gandhi (ANC) commented the problems that were raised by the Cape Professional Teachers' Association were not addressed adequately during Mr. Ramatlakane's and Adv. Gaum's presentations. She mentioned lack of access control, intimidation and slow police response as primary problems that the Cape Professional Teachers' Association mentioned. Adv. Gaum promised that affected schools would receive priority attention. He added that the three primary problems that were listed were covered by the Safe Schools Campaign which he promised would be effective in all aspects.

Ms Ghandi (ANC) suggested that converted ex-gangsters should be used to fight against gangsterism and violence in schools. Mr. Ramatlakane agreed that it was essential to use ex-gangsters to fight violence in schools. He however, emphasised that his department was focusing on preventative measures rather than rehabilitative ones.

Ms Nhlengethwa (ANC) asked if there were any other organised religious groups that formed an organisation to appeal against gangsterism as it was the case in Mpumalanga. She suggested that it would be a good idea to have such organisation that would reach out to convicted gangsters and publicly appeal against gangsterism in schools.

Adv. Gaum agreed that it was important to have all faith organisations involved but said that he had no idea of such a body so far.

The Chairperson consolidated the discussion by summarising the points that were made (sports and recreation, provincial youth commission, faith organisations) and emphasised the need for the committee to support the initiatives in tackling gangsterism and violence in schools and to make site visits to affected areas.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1

1. TITLE SLIDE: Safety at schools in the Western Cape: Impact of Gangsterism on schooling.

South Africa has many challenges. One of our greatest challenges is the high incidence of crime and violence which is exacerbated by high unemployment, poverty and social deprivation together with the ready availability of drugs and alcohol leading to wide spread substance abuse.
It is clear that the fabric of large segments of Western Cape society is being systematically destroyed by increasing endemic gangsterism. Daily reports appear in the written and electronic media about high levels of violence, physical and sexual abuse and gang activities. This impacts negatively on education in general and in what happens in the school in particular.


Gangs emerge from within communities themselves. This phenomenon has many root causes.
Firstly there are the SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONDITIONS such as low-income employment, unemployment, poor living conditions all leading to conditions of poverty and deprivation.
Secondly, within schools and particularly in the Grade 4 year the following BEHAVIOURS become more and more prevalent:
Anti-social behaviour because of having no sense of belonging resulting in a low self esteem
Poor academic performance
Learning difficulties are multiplied
Finally truancy and the incidence of dropping out.


Thirdly FAMILY SITUATIONS have a direct influence.

More than 50% of our children on the Cape Flats are from single parent families. Children are left without supervision after school.
In many cases pre-school children are left in the care of older girl siblings, who themselves should be at school.
The incidence of physical and sexual abuse is becoming more prevalent.
The abuse of alcohol and drugs has a significant impact.
In general children are exposed to poor role models within their immediate and extended families.

Becoming a member of a gang therefore fills the voids and provides for the needs of developing young lives. Needs such as having a feeling of being protected and a sense of belonging.
Gangs provide for what appears to be glamorous lifestyles.


Firstly there are the STREET DEFENCE GANGS. These are usually made up of young adolescents who form protection units around a building or a street. They take on the name of their immediate "turf". Names such as the Station Kids and Letaba Kids appear.
These gangs have strong leaders, often intelligent school dropouts, and are mainly involved in petty crimes, but may be coerced into running errands for hard core gangs.
Then there are the FAMILY MAFIA GANGS. They consist of immediate family members such as brothers, sisters, fathers and so on. These are fairly ruthless and fearless gangs.
Family Mafia gangs are involved in shebeens and drug trafficking to a lesser extent. They control the areas in which they live.
SYNDICATE GANGS are recruited law abiding people as well as those living a life of crime. An example would be a bank teller being coerced into illegal transfers, money laundering, loan sharking and so on.
These gangs are involved in drug trafficking, organised robbery and prostitution.
The incidence of PRISON GANGS is the most ominous of all. The "Number Gangs" - 26, 27 and 28, for instance, control the gangs on the outside.


Poor children are lured into gangs by promises of status symbols such as cell phones, gold chains and in some circumstances even motor cars.
Needy families are drawn into the web by promises of money for food and rent.
An essential need of a young adolescent is to have a sense of belonging. Gangs provide for this, and encourage and nurture aggressive anti-social behaviour, which emerges at puberty and adolescence.
Protection, at a price, is provided by gangs, giving individuals a false sense of safety and security.
A school provides easily accessible and defendable "turf" for drug dealing.
Young girls are targets. They are offered free lifts to and sexual favours from school by taxi drivers in return for These girls are introduced to drugs and influence sexual activities are video taped while under the as pornography. Such records are used to blackmail and hold the girls bound into a life of prostitution.

The impact of gang violence on schools

Gang activities outside as well as inside schools impact negatively on teaching and learning.
OUTSIDE activities have a disruptive influence on what happens inside the school in a variety of ways
Gangs appear to deliberately choose the arrival and departure times of teachers and learners to begin their shoot outs. This brings with it a terrorising "fear factor" which traumatises both teachers and learners.
The safety procedures of "stop, drop and roll" impacts on emotions.
Perceived allegiance to a particular gang is usually determined by where one lives. This can negatively impact on innocent residents in certain areas.
Threats, intimidation and harassment engender fear and results in absenteeism of both teachers and learners. This seriously impacts on teaching and learning.
Teachers are often absent because they need time off for trauma counselling and debriefing.
Parent and Governing Body meetings cannot take place after hours because of the danger factor.
Beneficial extra-mural activities cannot take place at all.

Gang activities INSIDE schools also impact significantly on teaching and learning:
Gangs within schools also claim their "turf". This restricts free movement of persons within the school grounds. Areas such as tuck shops and even toilets are claimed by the gang members.
Young gangsters often threaten and intimidate their teachers with violence. This behaviour results in teachers becoming traumatised, demoralised and therefore ineffective in the core business of education.
Graffiti "claiming" "turf" is an act of intimidation as well as vandalism.


What does Safe Schools have in place?

The VISION of Safe Schools is to develop schools into centres of excellence with strong community links, providing quality teaching and learning with effective governance and management and in so doing eventually combat the root causes of crime and violence.

The STRATEGY of Safe Schools focuses broadly on the safety of people - the teachers, learners and support staff. It is a three pronged strategy to create a safe, effective and conducive learning environment.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMMES where the physical structure of the school is secured by means of security fencing, mesh and razor wire as well as alarms linked to an armed response.
PROGRAMMES are put in place to support, modify or influence parent, educator and learner BEHAVIOUR at school. Where possible the community is also included. Programmes such as conflict management, trauma counselling, peer counselling, human rights education are used to modify behaviour. In addition sport and cultural
activities and the introduction of entrepreneurial training are introduced.
The SYSTEMS PROGRAMMES incorporate a holistic approach to changing how the whole school operates. This involves leadership and management training, organisational development, community relations and effective governance. It includes developing a relevant curriculum and identifying and assisting learners at risk. Partnerships involving other government departments as well as Non Governmental and Community Based Organisations are formed to address issues of safety and security.
A Safe Schools Planning Framework has been circulated to schools to assist them in puffing in place a community orientated problem solving approach.


WCED is currently busy with developing a protocol for substance abuse aligned to the National Drug Policy. The National drug policy prohibits random searches of our learners and focus more on prevention and support for the learners in need.
Drug trafficking is a criminal offence - We encourage schools to inform SAPS , Municipalities and other key role players who can impact on drug trafficking.
Safe Schools in partnership with a NGO ,Bridges have supported a number of schools with information, intervention and educational programmes for parents , school policies and referrals.



Although pro-active measures are already effected it is essential that REACTIVE procedures are in place. Processes such as:

Support to school communities in their efforts to reclaim and regain control of their situation.
Trauma debriefing together with counselling.
Intervention programmes, which identify root causes, are put in place together with preventative measures to contain any situation.
Where necessary additional physical infrastructure is introduced.
Law enforcement agencies are called in to assist with patrolling.
A Safe Schools Call Centre is in operation to receive all calls from schools and individuals that are suffering any form of trauma.


The challenges which the incidence of gangsterism and its multifaceted disruptive behaviour are not a matter which can Education Department be solved by the Western Cape alone.
It is my sincere belief that we are obligated to respond by putting in place, without delay, an orchestrated multisectoral, decisive, zero-tolerance initiative. We need to bring to life a high level, multi-disciplinary Task Team to devise an effective operational plan to deal with all the challenges, which I have highlighted here today.
The Task Team, in my opinion, should include all three tiers of government in developing strategies to ensure that gangsterism, crime and violence do not affect education in our schools, particularly prevalent in our poorest communities.
The Task Team would necessarily look at short, medium and long-term strategies to protect education from gangsterism.
Short and medium term solutions would include activities of the Police the Defence Force and National Intelligence together with all other agencies such as Health, Social Welfare and so on.


Job creation and the elimination of unemployment must form part of the strategy.
Long term solutions will include moral regeneration in our country. Education has a special role to play in this process, in conjunction with religious and other interest groups.



To get the debate started here are some possible options, which may be considered in an effort to tackle these huge challenges which face us

Municipal police officers properly trained could be deployed to areas of special need, for a significant period to ensure a high impact.
Army involvement and high visibility in gang violence areas would be another deterrent. It has come to my attention that the Defence Force has been withdrawn from being part of Operation Slasher, a special unit combating gangsterism, on the Cape Flats areas.
Law enforcement activities such as searches, seizures and raids of places like shebeens should be stepped up and continuous.
A special unit trained in personality and behavioural modification could be brought into being to mediate between gangs.
Media coverage tends to thrive on the sensationalism around gang activities. The press, both print and electronic, should be encouraged to send strong messages to communities involved in gang activities which discourage such activities. Gangs should be encouraged to hand in all illegal weapons, and strong warnings about the misuse of legal weapons should be given.
Stronger legislation regarding guns must be promulgated and enforced. There should be Firearm free zones within 100m of any school, for instance.
The policy of releasing gangsters back onto the streets should be reviewed. Approximately 20 000 are released
annually with serious consequences. Evidence of behavioural modification and rehabilitation should be a prerequisite for release.
A Useful support to schools would be a Police Officer trained as a School Resource Officer at every school.
The School Resource Officer will be able to identify possible at "At Risk "juveniles and offer resources to the juveniles and their families.
They will be able to grasp that our youth are victims of "Unprotected Social Relationships " which has ultimately created a violent generation of youth.
The Resource Officer will reduce the opportunity for gangs to formulate and crime to occur on school premises.
The Resource Officer will be the Schools Crime Prevention Specialist.

I am convinced that a well chosen task necessary commitment, experience and devise an operational plan which will bring transformation in our communities where it is team, with the dedication will about effective most needed.

Appendix 2

Report on the Impact and Steps Taken on Gangsterism in Western Cape Schools.

1. Introduction
Within the context of the other role players viz., the' Department of Education and the South African Police Services it is important to note that the Department of Community Safety's role is that of medium to long-term prevention programmes to combat gangsterism.

The Department of Community Safety has recently adopted a people-orientated, problem-solving policing and community safety strategy for the Western Cape. In terms of this strategy, the focus of the Department is geared to address the serious problems of murder, organised crime and violence against women and children. An aspect of organised crime, namely gangsterism rears its head in our schools. Central to dealing with the problem is the realisation that gangsterism is a societal problem and that it must be dealt with within the specific society. The general thrust is that gangsters are somebody's brother, sister, father and mother and society itself will have to make a stand against gangsterism. Families are thus to be discouraged from letting family members joining gangs. The challenge to the State is to offer viable alternatives. The Department has adopted the following programs to address this.

2. Projects
2.1 HOOC (Hands Off Our Children)

The purpose of the HOOC campaign is to mobilise the community to such an extent to eventually eradicate child abuse.

The objectives of the campaign are to.
· Sensitise the community towards the epic proportions of child abuse;
Initiate projects focused on preventing child abuse:
· Empower children with life skills to be able to prevent abusive situations;
· Strengthen the state support structures dealing with child abuse;
· Ensure the legislative framework is reviewed; and
· Establish a centralised database.

The programme has reached a significant number of citizens via:

1)Weekend Argus - for English readers with a combined readership of over 600 - 000 for the Saturday and the Sunday copies

2)Die Burger - Saturday paper for Afrikaans readers with a
circulation (sales) of close to 100 000
3)Rapport - Sunday Afrikaans newspaper with a readership
of about 800 000

4)City Press - a national newspaper with a readership of over
2 million nationally

The adverts detailing the objectives and the scope of the HOOC campaign have afforded us an opportunity to reach million people.

The campaign was furthermore aired on the following -radio stations:
· Good Hope FM
· Umhlobo Wenene
· P4 Radio
· Cape Talk
· Radio Zibonele
· Bush Radio

For the campaign to achieve the desired results we cannot leave communities behind - I have been going around speaking to communities particularly on the Cape Flats about the HOOC campaign and how they can play a role in taking the campaign forward. Further meetings in other areas have been planned. I am pleased to announce that some communities have already taken the initiative to launch their local HOOC campaigns.

2.2 Cape Urban Renewal Strategy
The South African Police Services has identified the areas (focus points) worst affected by gang related activities. These focus points are the following areas:

· Khayelitsha
· Mitchells Plain
· Manenberg
· Elsies River
· Hanover Park
· Bishop Lavis
· Philippi Corridor

The project focuses on urban and economic renewal, social renewal and law enforcement.

The following projects are a part of the urban renewal process in the identified areas:

2.2.1 Project: Erasing of Graffiti.
he objective of the project is to remove negative gang graffiti in the area.

Unemployed neighbourhood watch members are active in the removal
of negative graffiti in the area. The rationale for this is to break down
the no-go zones and directly challenging the gangs that marking of turf
is unacceptable; at the same time buildings are clean

2.2.2 Project: Stepping Stones
The objectives of the project are to prevent young people from joining gangs and committing crime through their involvement in sport.

The Department assists young people to be involved with sport by providing sport equipment and coaching. This will lead to more young people getting involved with sports and less involved with crime. e.g. the community of Elsies River had a very successful sport day and
reports from SAPS indicated that no crime was reported during the day of the sport event.

2.2.3 Truancy Reduction Projects
The high level of gang related violence in the designated areas could be attributed to the fact that a large majority of adults and youth including those of school going age, are idle at home during normal working hours.

This project is intended to make parents aware of their legal obligation to monitor their child's school attendance! to audit the number of youth that are not attending school, and to provide the necessary resources to help families and educators cope with issues underlying the truancy problem.

Learner Support Officers (24) under the supervision of Area Co-ordinators (6) have been appointed at selected schools within the above-mentioned areas to assist educators to deal with problematic learners. The rationale for the project is that less children outside the schooling system means less recruits for gangs.

2.3 Youth Leaders Against Crime (YLAC)
Youth at risk are therefore identified and given the opportunity to promote and build their maturity level and resilience factors. Youth at risk are identified at school level to establish an YLAC club under the supervision of the Learner Support Officer and a dedicated member of SAPS. The members of the club attend YLAC facilitated camps where their leadership abilities and resilience factors will be developed.

The main objective is the establishment and maintenance of a proactive project for the prevention of juvenile crime.

The aim of the project:

· To empower marginalised youth by enabling positive anti-crime values in themselves. This is in order to establish a pro-active prevention attitude in the communities in the long term,
· To sustain the pro-active youth crime prevention project with the establishing of anti-youth crime interest groups and programmes in the communities.

This programme is a joint initiative between the SAPS, Provincial
Community Police Board, the Education Department and the
Department of Community Safety in partnership with Lions Life
Skills Company and was launched on 24 May 2002.

The aim of the project:

To help young people develop essential life skills so that they can live useful, drug-free lives and the help them develop a sense of belonging and commitment to their families, schools, peers and community. This is achieved by teaching the following essential Life Skills:

a) Building Self-discipline, Responsibility and Self-confidence
b) Communicating Effectively and Co-operating with others
c) Managing Attitudes and Emotions including anger
d) Strengthening Positive Relationships with Family and Peers
e) Problem Solving and Responsible Decision-making
f) Resisting Negative Peer Pressure, Drugs and Alcohol abuse
g) Thinking Critically to filter facts from fiction
h) Setting Goals and Following them through
i) Providing Service to others

Project deliverables:
· 389 teachers from the North and East- EMDC's will be trained
· 250 schools (every primary school this region) will be reached.
· The programme has a two-year life cycle.
· It is targeted at grade 6 and 7's and a total of 18 000 learners will be reached.

Project Chrysalis is best described as a planned passage of change where young adults in a protected and dynamic environment can proceed on a journey of discovery in order to realise their true potential.

The long-term objective of the Chrysalis initiative is to reduce levels of crime and violence in the Western Cape by transforming "youth at risk" into strong, positive role models and community leaders of the future. The target copulation is young males between the ages of 16 and 22 years who are presently unemployed and have no criminal record. Each Chrysalis programme is fully residential and can accommodate up to 20 students.

The 12-week programme consists of the orientation, outdoor experience, occupational and odyssey phases. Areas of learning cover amongst others, sports coaching skills, self defence and first aid training, outdoor survival, personal development-: leadership and communication skills, career and opportunity awareness, basic engineering skills training and computer literacy programmes. In the aforementioned regard, students must be prepared to repay the investment in them with community service during their training, and afterwards.

The Chrysalis initiative is unique because of its curriculum composition and preventative, rather than rehabilitative approach.

The project has recently started clubs in areas where a number of graduates are present to further promote the aims of the project within communities.

The problem is that the latest outbreak of violence may be the spill over effect ,i.e. schools covered in the programme a-c reasonably stable whilst an area such as Lavender Hill was not identified as a hot spot.

The Department will undertake the following additional interventions:

1) Neighbourhood Watches

Neighbourhood Watches are to be encouraged to protect school premises not only during the night but more particularly during the day


Discussions have already been held with the Business Against Crime to extend the focus point:- CCTV to crime ravaged residential areas. In this regard schools should be the first place 5 protected.

3) Municipal Police
The Province has a understanding with cal government that Municipal Police are to be deployed in the identified crime areas. The philosophy of Municipal Police is one of Bobby on the Beat and Municipal Police are to be encouraged to include schools in their bean.

4) Alcohol Abuse
The role of alcohol shebeens plays an important part in gang activities. The Province is currently busy with the White Paper on Liquor, which eventually .. allow for all liquor outlets activities to be regulated.


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