Thieves prey on Hanover Park primary school

The gate at Parkfields Primary School in Hanover Park was stolen.

A Hanover Park primary school says it needs more security after two of its gates were stolen.

Parkfields Primary School caretaker, Badruneesa Arendse, noticed the two back gates were gone on Monday March 1, at 7am, according to the school administrator Martin de Jongh.

The school reported the theft to the police. Burnt paper and clothing were found on the premises along with a small fire that was put out.

“We also found two broken pipes, which were used to smoke drugs,” Mr De Jongh said. “Luckily, they did not get into the school building. In January, the school was also broken into and they broke into a classroom.”

The gates were later returned to the school by a man who claimed he bought them not knowing they were stolen.

According to teacher Eric van der Byl, the man said he was from Newfields and realised the gates were stolen after learning of the theft at the school on a WhatsApp chat group. He didn’t go to the police and although he promised to return to the school with more details, he has not done so.

Philippi police spokesman, Captain Lance Goliath, said thieves had targeted the school several times. While police could not station themselves there 24/7, they had increased patrols in the area.

Schools, he said, were soft targets for thieves, mostly drug addicts wanting to sell stolen goods for a quick fix.

“’We have also liaised with the neighbourhood watch and law enforcement to patrol around the school more often and soon we will be liaising with pupils at the school,” Captain Goliath said.

Hanover Park Community Police Forum (CPF) spokeswoman, Kaashiefa Mohammed, said the theft was shocking as the culprits were probably people who had attended the school and whose children now attend it.

“This is becoming a norm – to break into schools. It is so pathetic; the school is the heart of the community. The scrapyards need to stop taking these stolen items. They can see it is a school gate. We will increase our patrols, but we are calling on the police to arrest the culprits,” Ms Mohammed said.