A shocking 13 cases of abductions, attempted abductions and sexual assault incidences have been confirmed involving school pupils since the beginning of August. These reports stretch across various communities throughout the Cape and have also filtered into the Eastern Cape.

A student from Modderdam High School in Bonteheuwel was nearly abducted as she made her way to school last Friday morning. And a primary school learner was also saved from an attempted abduction in Kensington last Friday. A stranger attempted to lure the student into his car, but these attempts were foiled by a vigilant community member, who then intervened.

Other attempts include a man posing as a promoter from a large local retail store abducting an 8-year-old girl on 25 August, as well as a 15-year-old girl who was forced into a vehicle and sexually assaulted as the perpetrators drove around with her for hours on end. This incident occurred on 23 August.

Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, said they are seriously concerned about these incidents.

“The WCED is currently trying to determine whether these cases are isolated incidents, or form part of a trend,” Jessica Shelver told CapeTalk. “This is what we are trying to establish – we have requested a meeting with the SAPS, and it is imperative for us to know whether there is a link in any way.”

Shelver added that although the safety of students beyond school gates is not within the department’s jurisdiction, it is a great cause for concern as it falls within the mandate of the South African Police Services (SAPS).

“This is obviously of great concern to us, as safety outside the school gates is simply beyond our control and will remain SAPS’ mandate. We can run advocacy campaigns and issue letters to parents. Our biggest concern is that the SAPS are severely under-resourced, but the SAPS that they do have do an outstanding job. We commend them.”

Schäfer has been attempting to arrange a meeting with SAPS, but has been unsuccessful thus far.

“We’re trying our best to do everything possible to protect our children. The Premier has also expressed concern that she would like to find out whether the incidents are linked,” Shelver said. “We learned that four learners were abducted in the Eastern Cape on Monday and that they’re being traffic – not just outside of Port Elizabeth – and this is of great concern to us.”

Premier of the Eastern Cape, Phumulo Masualle, has advised parents in the province to be on high alert following the abduction of four children on Monday.

Police are also conducting an investigation into a child-trafficking case – children were found being trafficked in a truck near Nanaga, en-route to Port Elizabeth, recently.

“This is something that we need to monitor, and looks to be something that is not just limited to the Western Cape,” Shelver said. “We’ve asked the DA’s Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele, to take it up at a national level.”
She added that the WCED is also engaging with traffic services and school transport taxis to allow for these taxis to pick up and drop off learners within school grounds each day.
The Walking Bus system was recently rolled out in several parts of the province and has proven to be successful in ensuring the safety of learners. This system allows for school pupils to walk to and from school in groups while being accompanied by trusted parents.
“We were visiting a school the other day, and the people who form part of the Walking Buses were actually patrolling the schools. They were on the lookout for suspicious vehicles and suspicious individuals, and were reporting any sighting os these to the school, who in turn reported them to police,” Shelver said.
“It is something that is picking up and we urge our communities to have parents who are not in work in the mornings or afternoons to assist us where possible and to get children to and from schools safely.”
South African Human Trafficking Hotline: 0800 222 777.
Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She enjoys reading the works of Stephen King, and exploring the beauty of Cape Town and its surrounds.