Pubdate: Mon, 26 Jul 2004
Source: Daily News, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2004 The Daily News.
Author: Veven Bisetty


Was it a principal's hunch? If it was, it paid off. Police raided a 
Pietermaritzburg school and left with one unlicensed firearm, four 9mm 
rounds of ammunition, one knife and 2kgs of dagga.

While the school declined to comment on Thursday's raid, police said the 
joint operation by the Sector Policing Unit, Copesville Special Task Team 
and the SAPS Dog Unit at the Copesville Secondary School was at the request 
of the school principal.

Spokesman Sgt Sumay van Zyl said an intensive search was conducted by 
police officials, who seized the weapons.

"Carrying of dangerous weapons and drugs to school constitutes a serious 
crime, and the SAPS cautions and warns all pupils that criminal charges 
will be laid against them should they be found in possession of such 
weapons and/or drugs," Van Zyl warned.

The SAPS, he said, will continue regular checks at schools to ensure that 
pupils do not contravene the law in this way.

The provincial education department's head of school governance, Mike 
Lotter, has welcomed the raid. The police, he said, were fully entitled to 
search schools for dangerous weapons or for banned substances. The 
principal has the right to call in the police.

"The regulations are very clear. We will not tolerate this kind of 
behaviour by anyone at our schools. Safety and security is of paramount 
importance at our institutions," Lotter said.

KwaZulu-Natal Education Minister Ina Cronje is concerned about the spate of 
criminal incidents at provincial schools. She said the department was 
looking at a radical plan which could see the police adopting schools in 
its areas.

Cronje said drug abuse was becoming rife and that drug dealers were 
recruiting pupils as peddlers.

She said the department was looking at joining forces with safety and 
security department where schools could be adopted by the police.
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