Teen’s ordeal highlights safety launch

Less than two hours before a plan to protect children walking to schools in Scottsdene was unveiled, a pupil was robbed at gunpoint at Bernadino Heights High School.

However, Kraaifontein police moved in quickly to make an arrest after the girl identified the perpetrator from a mugshot database.

Station commander Brigadier Gerda van Niekerk said officers arrested a man within two hours of the mugging on Thursday July 28.

Bernadinho Heights principal Henry Alexander was already at the school when the mugging happened at about 7am, and there were already other pupils in the school yard. He said the girl told him and the police that two gangsters had robbed her.

Northern News arrived in Scottsdene to find five police vans stopped near Eoan Street, and officers were searching five men.

The heavily armed policemen barred us from taking pictures, asking us to drive off before they continued patrolling.

A short while later, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, accompanied by Kraaifontein police, launched the Walking Bus initiative for volunteers, at Scottsdene Youth Centre.It will see parents in marked reflector bibs walking children to school and fetching them later.

Mr Plato said the project was already working well in Wesbank, Delft and Mitchell’s Plain.

“The aim is to get as many adults in the morning and afternoon to man the streets and ensure there is a safe passage to and from schools,” he said.

The Walking Bus started after several reports of children being robbed on their way to school. Mr Plato said “quite a number” of complaints of robberies had been reported to him in Scottsdene that morning, including the one moments earlier at Bernadino Heights High.

He said the only way to see if the concept worked in the area was for parents to take part.

“We’re saying to parents sitting at home, ‘Please go to school with the children; form part of the school committee and neighbourhood watches’.”

Mr Plato claimed the Walking Bus in Wesbank had cut crime in the area by 34 percent, and Mitchell’s Plain and Lentegeur had seen similar successes. Police would also protect the Walking Bus and a WhatsApp group keep members connected.

Kraaifontein Community Police Forum coordinator Anton Peacock welcomed the initiative, saying it would stop criminals preying on easy targets.

“It will give pupils a greater sense of freedom and security if residents are visible along routes to schools,” he said.

Brigadier van Niekerk added: “It will definitely keep our feet on the beat. We will be helping (the parents) on routes.”