Friday, September 4, 2009

safety first?

Students are not shocked by violence; it is not something out of the ordinary for them. A gun being found in the boy’s washroom last week was news for a day, then forgotten. A couple of days later I was speaking with a group of kids and I asked them their thoughts on the gun left lying around in the school. if it worried them, made them feel unsafe. They laughed.

‘Miss, where we come from, guns are everywhere. Everyone knows the gangsters carry them. This is just the first time one was found at school. You see how many kids turned up at school the next day? Same as always. The gun being found didn’t keep anyone away. Why should it?’

But what about the security guards? I naively asked. Again, they laughed.

‘Miss, the security guards? What security guards? You mean the people who are hired to watch the gate and patrol the school? They are a joke. They don’t do anything to help keep us safe. They don’t even control the gate properly. You see, many of the gangsters live in the same communities as the guards (known in Xhosa as ‘bambanani’s). The gangsters know where to find them. They know that they go to a certain shabeen on the weekends to get drunk, they know where they live. If the bambananis try to mess with them at school they can easily go after them or their families. The bambananis know this to. The gangsters smoke right in front of the bambananis. They blow smoke in their faces. They know they are basically untouchable because the bambananis aren’t going to risk their safety or the safety of their families for their jobs. You can’t have bambananis that live in the same area as the school working at the school. I don’t know why the principal and teachers don’t understand that.’