Stay away from drugs, crime, police tell pupils

Athlone police urged the pupils at Bokmakierie Primary School to stay away from drugs, guns, knives, and crime as part of a crime-prevention drive last week.

Acting station commander Colonel Jacobus Fredericks and head of crime prevention Captain Andre Petersen spoke to the Grade 6 and 7 pupils about how criminals used scissors, hammers, screwdrivers and other household items as weapons.

Colonel Fredericks asked the pupils what they knew about drugs. He showed the pupils a packet of white powder and asked them what they thought it was. When the pupils immediately responded that it was tik, Colonel Fredericks explained to them that the drug was made with household detergents and cooked to get the powder form.

Acting station commander of Athlone police station Colonel Jacobus Fredericks showed pupils a packet of white powder and asked if they knew what it was.

Most children on the Cape Flats knew what drugs looked like and became addicted after experimenting with them, he said.

“I had two friends who were qualified welders and they had their own successful business, but they used drugs; they became addicted, and today they are on the street wearing dirty clothes. They have no food and no money, and they lost everything they had to drugs. Don’t experiment and don’t succumb to peer pressure to use it,” he said.

The justice system gave children many chances to reform if they committed a crime, but once they turned 18 they would be tried in court as an adult and get a criminal record, he said.

“So ten years later, you go and study and get your degree and you apply for a job and they ask you to get police clearance, but when you come back with a criminal record, they won’t hire you, no one will,” he said.

“You walk out with that same degree and no job. Don’t throw away your future by using drugs. The house and the cars that the merchant drives are paid for with drug money. Don’t let that motivate you to become a gangster. They have their runners, and they get paid with drugs and a little money, but the merchant lives in a big house and drives fancy cars, but he doesn’t do the hard work.”

The average life expectancy for a gangster was 30, he said, encouraging the pupils to occupy themselves with church, good friends, and after-school programmes.

“Listen to your parents. They are wiser and they have much more experience than you do. Stop saying ’don’t tell me what to do’,” he said.

Addressing the pupils, from left, are Athlone SAPS spokeswoman Sergeant Zita Norman, crime-intelligence officer Captain Adrian Andries, crime-prevention head Captain Andre Petersen, acting station commander Colonel Jacobus Fredericks, domestic violence and police clearance officer Sergeant Carl Zass, and Bokmakierie Primary School principal Michele Pinto.

Captain Petersen showed pupils a knife and asked them what one could do with it. Many of the pupils answered that you could stab someone with a knife or kill them, but Captain Petersen explained that you could also peel an apple or an orange with that same knife. He demonstrated how thieves used a knife to intimidate people and rob them by staging a mock mugging with principal Michele Pinto as his “victim”.

“Your friends might try to pressure you to join gangs, and you might get bullied at school, but you must tell a teacher or the principal or your parents. Don’t give in, and stand up and report it to someone you trust before you succumb to your frustration of being bullied or peer pressured and stab someone out of frustration,” he said.

He told the pupils that their futures were in their own hands. “It’s how you roll the ball,” he said.

Crime prevention head Captain Andre Petersen, left, and acting station commander of Athlone SAPS Colonel Jacobus Fredericks showed the pupils examples of dangerous weapons.