Gangsterism and violence in Orange Farm schools

Graffiti at the entrance of the main office at Thamsanqa Secondary School.

Most grade 8 learners are kidnapped and taken to initiation schools without their parents’ concern

Orange Farm, Gauteng, South Africa

Teachers, students and the community at large are living in fear after an outbreak of violence amongst groups of boys from different initiation schools in secondary schools in Orange Farm, South of Johannesburg.

Thamsanqa and Thetha Secondary Schools are some of the schools affected by violent behaviour.

In a recent incident it is alleged that a matriculant from Thamsanqa Secondary School was stabbed in the face on the school premises. A few weeks later another student was forced to squeeze human faeces in the toilet because he belonged to an opposite faction.

Even girls who went to initiation school turn to unruly behaviour. Another student girl was forced to pay a R1 fee to enter
the school toilet at Thetha Secondary school because she never a ended an initiation school.

Graffiti at the entrance of the main office at Thamsanqa Secondary School.

Deputy Chairperson of the school governing body at Thamsanqa Secondary School, Sipho Soxokashe said the fights start from initiation camps during school holidays and they continue on the school premises when schools reopen. “In less than every 3 months, 3 to 4 students are stabbed if not physically or emotionally abused by these gangs and this cannot be tolerated,” Soxokashe added.

The South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) chairperson for ward 5 in that area, Freedom Ngidi, said the violence in schools continues because safety is not up to standard. “You cannot hire an inexperienced community member as a security guard to maintain safety during the day and hire a well-trained security officer to guard the school at night,” he added referring to Community Patrollers working at schools.

Ngidi made it clear that the Department of Education is not doing much to ensure that teachers, students and the staff members are safe in schools.

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The community is affected by some of the students who dropped out of schools because of being victimised by groups of students who went to initiation schools. These drop outs have resorted to being criminals and smoking drugs. Moreover, most grade 8 learners are kidnapped and taken to initiation schools without their parents consent. This has made some community members to accuse this cultural practice as a forced money making scheme.

Orange farm stakeholders gathered at the local police station last year and took a resolution that initiation schools must be temporarily closed until a proper regulation policy to guide initiates is adopted but this was all in vain.

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