Khayelitsha Education Forum disputes claims by WCED

Khayelitsha teachers packed the Luhlaza Senior Secondary School's hall during the briefing meeting with KEF on Friday. Photo by Mzi Velapi

The Khayelitsha Education Forum has vowed to continue with protests if their demands for security at schools are not met by the Western Cape Education Department.

The Khayelitsha Education Forum (KEF) has disputed the claim by the Western Cape Education Department that they did not submit a proposal to have Neighbourhood Watch provide security at schools. Speaking at a community briefing at Luhlaza Senior Secondary on Friday, KEF’s secretary, Haido Mteto, said that they only learned they needed to submit a proposal when the deadline had already passed. “We only heard about the fact that we were supposed to submit a proposal at a meeting we had with them in September last year. It came as a surprise to us,” he said.

The WCED released a statement and condemned the closure of schools in Khayelitsha and blamed the KEF for not submitting proposals on time.

“We also proposed a further solution – using the Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) model, with funding of roughly R3.25 million available for this purpose. NHW groups must be vetted and accredited before they will be allowed to operate in schools. This is non-negotiable. The unaccredited structures were invited to send proposals so that they could be vetted and accredited by DoCS. Unfortunately, and disappointingly, they did not do so timeously, and the project window closed,” reads the statement from the WCED.

There were no classes in Khayelitsha schools on Thursday and Friday as teachers, learners and parents marched to the magistrate’s court calling for the provincial department of education to improve safety at schools.

The WCED says subsequently they received an application for the Neighbourhood Watch model from KEF and it is in the approval process.

Speaking to Elitsha, some Neighbourhood Watch volunteers said that they would like to be employed and get paid. Noziphiwo Gqomorho, who has been a volunteer since April last year, said that they do not have enough resources to do their jobs. “We don’t have enough torches or safety boots; we only have these reflector jackets,” she said.

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Gqomorho recalled how at one of the primary schools in the area, they caught drug addicts digging under the school fence to gain access. “We were at Yomelela Primary and we saw skollies trying to gain access to the school yard by digging under the fence. We stopped them and called the police,” she said.

Another volunteer, Nombongo Dabula, said that they do not get a stipend but that they continue to work to ensure that the community is safe.

Teaching and learning is expected to resume on Monday and according to Nomawethu Mosana they will be meeting with all the subcouncil ward councillors to plan a way forward. The Khayelitsha Education Forum has given the WCED seven days to respond to their memorandum.

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