Lockdown leaves crèche vulnerable to crime

Ekwezi Education centre in Kalkfontein is being targeted by criminals.

Criminals are closing in on a Kalkfontein crèche, and with no school fees coming in during lockdown, the principal says she is powerless to stop them.

Thieves stole the Ekwezi Educare Centre’s fence on Monday April 27. Then again, in the early hours of Tuesday May 5, the Phelendaba Street crèche’s windows were smashed, but the residents scared off the would-be burglars before they could climb inside.

A 53-year-old resident, who did not want to be named, said four men had broken the windows in the middle of the night.

“I woke up to the noise and shouted, and they ran off when other people put on their lights in the street,” she said. 

Trudie Sass, the crèche’s principal, leases the property from the City of Cape Town. She said it was the first time in 23 years that the crèche had been broken into. 

“I’ve been working at this centre for more than 20 years and this has never happened. It’s lockdown, and people are looking for things to sell in order to make money.”

She said she couldn’t afford to replace the fence or hire a security guard. “At the moment, I am not making money because the crèche is closed due to lockdown.”

Ms Sass said she had turned to the City for help but in vain. She asked residents to be her “eyes and ears” and alert police of suspicious activities at the crèche. 

Kuils River police spokeswoman Sergeant Liesel Beukes said the attempted break-in hadn’t been reported. “The persons in charge at the centre should inform the local councillor or the City of Cape Town of the incident to possibly secure security personnel,” she said, adding that police would beef up patrols in the area.

City spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo said that in terms of her lease, the principal was responsible for all maintenance and repairs at the property, including hiring security and fixing the fence. 

“During a site inspection on 30 April, it was found that, besides two broken windows and a portion of the fence being removed, the building is still intact and in a reasonable condition,” he said.