High risk schools receive hand held metal detectors

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cape Town - In an attempt to improve safety measures in schools in the Western Cape, all schools deemed high-risk in the province will receive handheld metal detectors in the coming weeks.

The initiative by the provincial Department of Education will see the province's 110 high-risk schools receiving the detectors to tackle school violence and create a safe and conducive learning environment for learners.

The department hopes to tackle the problem of unsafe schools through a three-pronged strategy focussing on the safety of pupils, teachers, support staff and property.

Western Cape MEC for Education, Donald Grant, who on Monday launched the project at St Andrew's Secondary School, said the department wanted to maximise the use of physical security measures at schools.

Physical safety measures include metal detectors, safety gates, burglar bars, alarms, perimeter patrols by community volunteers and armed response.

"The hand held metal detectors will assist schools in carrying out random searches if they suspect that learners are carrying dangerous objects to schools.

"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," Grant said.

Searches on learners will include a manual or technical search of personal possessions and the items the individual may be carrying. If a person is wearing a coat or jacket they may be requested to remove it.

"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," he said.

Grant said body searches may only be conducted by the principal or his or her delegates, 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."

He said a learner may be subjected to disciplinary proceedings if any dangerous object has been seized from them.

The department is trying to find a balance between crime control and crime prevention.

Grant encouraged all schools to regularly remind learners that schools are dangerous object and drug free zones.

"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," Grant said.