Nightmare next to fence

Trafalgar High School has a growing problem, with informal shacks being erected alongside the school's fence and talks of prostitution and drug dealing are rife.

Trafalgar High School principal, Nadeem Hendricks, is a man on a mission and has called on law enforcement to help rid the school of some anti-social activities unfolding on the doorstep of the school.

Erected alongside the school’s fencing are informal shacks, allegedly involved with illegal drug dealing, excessive drug use and also prostitution. The fearless principal has made a number of attempts to get rid of these illicit activities, even putting his own life on the line by approaching the school’s unwanted neighbours.

“The people squatting alongside the school are having a field day, because nothing is happening with this situation.

“There have been raids and operations, but tomorrow, they return and bring more people with them. They set up new shacks and then the problems continue. I have personally visited these shacks to ask them to stop,” said Mr Hendricks.

I even asked members of Pagad to assist and they also went to visit these shacks to talk to these people, but nothing seems to work,” said a frustrated Mr Hendricks.

Although the problems have been coming on for a while, Mr Hendricks said it was only after the December holidays when the school discovered some new neighbours and an increase in shacks alongside the school.

“I have been asking for help over and over again. I hear there are plans, then nothing happens. If this problem was taking place at a more affluent school, this would have been removed along time ago already. But, sadly we are not in that position, so our kids just have to be exposed to this daily,” Mr Hendricks said.

When the Tatler visited the site, efforts were made to speak to the squatters on the land, but they refused to share their story.

Scenes next to Trafalgar High School have also got parents worried, as a hole has been made in the outer fence, giving access to the school grounds, with a secondary fence having been put in place to ensure nobody enters the school.

Fatima Galant noticed two people entering the school from the shacks after dropping her son at the main gate.

“They just walked through the one fence and went to sit down. They were even chatting to some pupils, who were behind the second fence that is erected around the playground. I have raised this with the school, who said they are doing everything they can to get rid of the problem, but why is nobody else coming to the party?” Ms Galant asked.

“Our kids are exposed to these crime daily. They are interacting with prostitutes and drug dealers. How is it that this is not a problem? Must one of our children turn into a prostitute or drug dealer for help to arrive?” Ms Galant added.

Thembikhaya Obose travels by train with her 15-year-old son and every morning, drops him at the gate of the school before she heads off to work. The scenes taking place have “gradually become worse” as she noticed more people popping up around the informal structures.

“We arrived one morning and there were two guys sitting outside the shack closest to the school gate; one was busy with a tik pipe and the other was cleaning dagga. They greeted us as if they belong there, not ashamed of what they were doing, not thinking that our children, who come there to be educated, are watching what they do,” Ms Obose said.

The property alongside the school is a cause for irritation as well, as Ms Obose claims to have seen dirty condoms, domestic refuse, furniture, old food and almost everything dumped on the property.

“For a school that is in such a nice setting, they really are made to struggle by carrying this problem that neighbours them. Somebody must know who can help – everybody can’t turn a blind eye. At any white school, this problem would have been gone in a matter of hours, but because the idea is there that our kids already come from areas where drugs and other illegal activities are a norm, people tend to think they (pupils) can put up with it for a bit longer,” said the mother of four.

Mr Hendricks agreed, saying: “There is a law that states you are not allowed to sell liquor within a certain amount of meters from a schooling institution or a place that cares for kids. I have people selling drugs and sex two or three meters away from our fence. Is that not concerning to anybody?”

He added that the school had been working with various security roleplayers to rid the school of this growing concern, but feels that more needed to be done to ensure that the problems do not persist.

“I am just trying to protect my children and make sure they do not pick up on any of these dirty habits. There is really no point of them going into a classroom and being taught one thing, then during break or home time, going out and being exposed to anti-social behaviour of that nature,” Mr Hendricks said.

Spokesperson for the Cape Town Central police, Captain Ezra October, confirmed that the school and police have met to address the problems plaguing the school.

He added that arrests were made for various crimes, not only at the site neighbouring the school, but also in District Six, Holy Cross Primary and Justice Walk, which are all located close to Trafalgar High School.

“We held various successful integrated crime clean-up operations with other security role-players, for example the City’s Law Enforcement, CCID, police. We have arrested suspects for drugs and people out on parole who broke their conditions,” Captain October said, emphasising his concern for the pupils’ safety.

“SAPS have a duty to create a safe environment for all citizens.

“We will continue with crime clean-up operations and liaise with the principal.”

The Tatler sent a detailed list of questions to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), but they failed to respond by the time this edition went to print.