Watch spurs fight against drugs at school

Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch is concerned about an apparent drug problem at Rylands High School.

Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch (GNHW) has called for other organisations to help them rid the area of its drug problem after two Rylands High School pupils were caught with 23 dagga cigarettes two weeks ago.

A male pupil was found with 13 dagga cigarettes on Valentine’s Day, February 14, and a female pupil had 10 more of these in her possession the next day.

The pupils’ parents and the police were informed and a disciplinary hearing was held on Saturday, February 23, where they were suspended for seven days.

Paddy Attwell, director of communication for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), said this was the maximum sanction that can be applied by a school.

“The school will arrange counselling and apply a corrective behaviour programme for the learners,” he said.

GNHW chairperson Fowzia Veerasamy said the dealing of drugs inside and outside the school had become a daily problem and the neighbourhood watch had urged the school to do something about it.

“The problem is Gatesville is flooded with drugs, it’s everywhere. We are working with all stakeholders to make sure that we sort out the issue and we have seen some progress but it is up to the school to clean up inside,” she said.

Ms Veerasamy said residents who live opposite the school have complained to the school’s security guard about the drug dealing by pupils. “We need to join forces to sort out this problem.”

Rylands High School principal, Kona Naidoo, referred the Athlone News to the WCED for comment.

Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for education MEC Debbie Schafer, said police had conducted a random search at the school on Wednesday February 21. A packet of cigarettes and a lighter was found.

“SAPS has been advised of ‘hot spots’ at the shopping complex where learners are seen loitering before and after school. The school often receives reports that learners are smoking (cigarettes) at these spots, and educators do random rounds to monitor. Information has been provided to SAPS about a shop that has been identified as selling cigarettes to learners, as well as reports of elements on bicycles who sell substances to learners,” said Ms Shelver.

She said since January the school had reported four substance abuse related cases and a Safe Schools co-ordinator was aware of the situation.

“Numerous meetings have been held to strategise regarding substance abuse. Drug testing units have been provided to the school.

Safe Schools assisted with the erection of a fence in an area of the school that proved problematic in terms of access. Safe Schools is now looking at starting a youth club with the RCL (Representative Council of Learners) of the school. A meeting has also been set with the safety committee to look at the way forward.”

Athlone police station spokeswoman, Sergeant Zita Norman, said police have been made aware of the drug problem at Rylands High School.

“It is said that some of the pupils have been using dagga before they come to school and finish it off at school,” she said.