Department urges caution after school-gate scares

A 10-year-old boy leapt from his father’s car as a thief drove off with him in the vehicle, just outside Habibia Primary School,

Education authorities say parents must be alert when picking up their children from school, after one child was mugged and another almost abducted in a hijacking.

A 10-year-old boy leapt from his father’s car as a thief drove off with him in the vehicle, just outside Habibia Primary School, on Monday afternoon June 21.

According to Athlone police station spokeswoman Sergeant Zita Norman, the boy’s father left the car idling, because of a problem with the vehicle, while he fetched his other child from the school gate.

When the thief climbed into the car and sped off, the boy jumped out.

Police found the car abandoned later that same day in Sirius Road Sherwood Park, Manenberg.

“A case of a theft of motor vehicle was opened at the station. We urge anyone to come forward with information,” Sergeant Norman said.

Kerry Mauchline, spokeswoman for MEC of education Debbie Schäfer, said that the incident was reported to police and Safe Schools.

“Counselling has been provided to the parent and child. The school sent a letter to parents informing them of the incident and emphasising the need for vigilance when dropping off or fetching their children,” she said.

On Thursday June 17 a pupil was robbed of his cellphone outside of Livingstone High School when the school was dismissed. As the pupil left through the school’s Leraar Road gate, a man grabbed his cellphone. The school issued a letter to parents referring to a near abduction, but Ms Mauchline said that the pupil had held onto his cellphone and witnesses had assumed that he was being abducted.

“Upon further investigation it appears that this was not in fact an attempted kidnapping but a robbery. The matter was reported to SAPS, and an appointment with the school counsellor arranged for the learner.”

The safety of pupils outside of the school gates was beyond the Western Cape Education Department’s control and pupils should remain vigilant at all times, she said.

Pupils should stay in the school until they had spotted their lifts, and those using public transport should travel in groups, she said.

Parents should arrange to pick up their children as close to the school as possible.

“Schools should also ensure that learners are aware of ’stranger danger.’ While we do not want to frighten them, they must know that they should be wary and run away if any stranger approaches them,” she said.

Pupils should not accept any food, drinks, money or objects from strangers, and they should report any suspicious characters to their school as soon as possible, she said.