SCISSORS, a knife, seven dagga cigarettes, tobacco cigarettes and cellphones were found on school children at Belgravia High School when the school was raided last week.
The principal of Belgravia High School, André Buis, asked the police to conduct a search at the school. On Friday, 15 February, a joint operation involving Athlone police, Law Enforcement, Metro Police and Sechaba Security Company was launched, with a large convoy of police cars and vans arriving at the school.
Once the search was completed, the confiscated items were tallied. They comprised seven dagga cigarettes, six lighters, 17 pairs of very sharp scissors, 58 cellphones and one knife. The school has a policy against learners having cellphones at school, but these were returned.
According to Buis, this was a drastic decrease in seized items in comparison to a similar search last year.
Buis was commended for taking such a bold step in proactively dealing with the scourge of gangsterism and drugs that has crept into schools.
This follows extensive media coverage that revealed South African schools were experiencing high levels of violence on school grounds and in classrooms.
The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) found South African schools to be the most dangerous in the world. The SAIRR's findings come after the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study of last year indicated that 23% of South African learners feel unsafe in the country's schools.
The Department of Education has proposed the banning of scissors in response to this study.
Captain Andre Venter, communications officer at the Athlone Police Station, says he hopes that other schools will use Belgravia as an example of a school facing the problems head on, and "hopefully other schools will follow suit".
Ernest Coert, chairperson of the school's governing body, says the search was done in accordance with the policy that parents sign once enrolling their children at the school. The policy states that random searches will be conducted to prevent drugs and weapons from being brought onto school premises.
Boys and girls were separated for the search, with girls being searched by women and boys by men.