Pupils protest for better police presence

Claremont police placed flowers and a message outside the Clareinch post office, which is next door to the police station.

School pupils protesting against gender-based violence petitioned Claremont police, last week for safer schools and a greater police presence.

Groote Schuur High School pupils and staff gathered on Friday September 6 to pay their respects to murdered women, including UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana, UWC student Jesse Hess, Lynette Volschenk and Meghan Cremer.

Teacher Chelsyn Solomons said the ongoing violence against women and children saddened him to his core. He called on the pupils to raise awareness, whether it be among friends, peers or family.

“I would like to encourage everyone not to let fear overpower you but to find the courage that is within you to rise and to stand up.”

A delegation from the school, along with pupils from Livingstone and Claremont high schools, handed a memorandum with 1 081 signatures to station commander Colonel Maree Louw, expressing the school communities’ outrage at the ongoing violence and brutality, especially against women and children.

The memorandum called for increased police presence and visibility around schools in the area and en route to the bus terminus and train station before and after school; self-defence workshops for pupils and staff; improved response time; increased patrols after hours for pupils who take part in extra-mural activities; the installation of CCTV cameras around schools; and trained personnel and decent care facilities for trauma victims.

Groote Schuur’s head of pastoral care and restorative discipline, Keiran Peacock, said many of the girls had voiced their ongoing fear when walking to and from the Claremont taxi rank or train station, following the murder of Uyinene.

He said the pupils felt that the activism had to have direction to effect change.

“The impact of the recent events on pupils and staff has been huge. We have seen mass expression in the fight for change. We have seen visible signs of trauma across the board, and thus we see hope but deep levels of sadness too,” he said.

Colonel Louw said the pupils’ demands would not go unattended. The station’s management would work out a plan of action then forward the memorandum to the provincial office for monitoring.

Colonel Louw said they were working closely with neighbourhood watches, private security companies and other law enforcement agencies to keep the area safe. Uyinene was laid to rest on Saturday September 7 in East London.

The Tatler reported last week that Claremont police had arrested a SA Post Office employee in connection with Uyinene’s murder.

Uyinene, known as Nene, was last seen leaving her student residence in Claremont on Saturday August 24, around 1.30pm.

Colonel Louw said the arrest came after they received a tip-off that the Clareinch post office might be a crime scene as blood had been spotted on a mop. The area was cordoned off and fingerprints and DNA samples were taken (“Student’s murder causes uproar,” Tatler, September 5).

The accused will appear in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday November 5 on charges of murder, rape and obstructing the ends of justice.

After handing over the memorandum, the pupils gathered at the post office for a wreath-laying ceremony.