In a statement, the Gauteng department of education (GDE) has called on parents with pupils in Gauteng schools not to panic, following what it described as “a false alarm that learners are being kidnapped from schools”.
The department did confirm that some schools have been affected following the outburst of looting and violence, which has seen mainly foreign-owned shops targeted.
“According to the information at our disposal, parts of Ekurhuleni, particularly schools in Katlehong, have been affected by this scourge of looting,” the statement said.
This, however, “has resulted in parents panicking as a result of a false alarm that learners are being kidnapped from schools,” the statement continues.
While confirming that a pupil was injured, the department says reports of a school being torched are false.
The department said it had heard reports that a pupil “was hit and injured by a gate at Nqubela Primary School [in Thokoza, Alberton] this morning” and was “rushed to the hospital by the principal”.
MEC Panyaza Lesufi said: “It must be noted that there are circulating social media posts suggesting that Lungisani Primary School [in Katlehong] was torched this morning. The department strongly refutes all these allegations. We want to reiterate that no school was burned today.
“We would like to appeal to parents to remain calm and urge the community to refrain from disrupting teaching and learning. We believe that with the ongoing criminal activities, our schools are a safer and conducive environment for learners than roaming in the streets.”
The Citizen reported earlier that a social media user who alleged that Somalians were targeting schools in the Katlehong area east of Johannesburg had been warned by the Lesufi against spreading fake news.
In a video tweet, the user, Nomomde Ndala, alleged that parents were forced to fetch their children from schools due to supposed Somalians attacking both primary and high schools.
“They are entering the schools with weapons, kidnapping children cause its ‘payback’ time. Check up on your loved ones, its a mess,” she tweeted.
Prior to the department’s statement, Lesufi took to Twitter to indicate that reports of schools burning down were false and to urge people not to spread fake news.
Areas affected by a fresh outburst of attacks on mainly foreign-owned shops include Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg central, areas of the south of Joburg including Rosetenville and Turffontein, and Alexandra township, where such attacks first began back in 2008.
A spree of looting has been justified by its perpetrators as a response to alleged criminal activity on the part of undocumented foreigners.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Tuesday said he would bring in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) if the violence continued.
“We can’t criminalise all foreign nationals and everybody must live by the rules of the country, whether local or foreigner nationals,” he said.
Five people have been killed so far, with President Cyril Ramaphosa vowing to react swiftly and decisively to stop the attacks.
(Edited by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, Gopolang Moloko)