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Investigate Escalating Attacks on South Africa’s Teachers: Catholic Institute of Education

The logo of the Catholic Institute of Education (CIE). Credit: Catholic Institute of Education (CIE)

The leadership of the Catholic Institute of Education (CIE) in South Africa is calling on security agencies in the country to look into the multiple cases of attacks on Principals and teachers in the Southern African nation.  

In a recent interview with ACI Africa, CIE Director, Anne Baker, said violence targeting educators in South Africa has escalated in recent days, and that reasons behind the attacks are yet to be established.  

“There have been several killings over a number of years. I would urge the South African police force to find out what is behind them,” Ms. Baker told ACI Africa last week.  

"The question is, why are they being killed? We don't have a quick answer to that, and I think this is where our police intelligence is failing us, because surely there must be some reason behind it,” she said during the February 10 interview. 

The official of the Department of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) said that there are different speculations that seem to explain why educators in the country are being attacked. 

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She said, “One of the suppositions is to do with positions in schools. Somebody wants that position and they don't get it. This seems even more shocking to me. Why would it happen?”

Ms. Baker's call for investigation comes weeks after the Principal of the Mariatrost Junior Primary School and his wife were killed at their home in St. Faith's Mission village, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

Principal Gugulethu Sijadu (55) and his wife, Thembelihle (45), were reportedly shot and killed by unknown gunmen.

Last week, CIE officials expressed concern about brutal attacks on learning institutions, learners, and the staff in South Africa.

In the February 10 interview, Ms. Baker described the attacks and murders as "extremely sad". 

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She further said, “It’s a tragedy that people who have worked hard all their lives and are in positions to make a difference in the lives of children are targeted in this manner."

The official of the SACBC Department also expressed concern about the violence witnessed among students.

On February 7, students at Kulanathi Senior Secondary School in the Catholic Diocese of Mthatha stoned teachers and the school's building over transport allocations. 

In the interview with ACI Africa, Ms. Baker said students are emulating adults by expressing themselves through violent actions. 

"We are not in conflict management in our country at all. We resort to very vicious name calling. This is what our young people see," Ms. Baker said, and called on adults in the country "to offer young people a vision of hope." 

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The CIE official added that there is need for South African authorities to address the gangster attitudes among some students.

"The other thing that really is needed is something around how to cope with gangsterism, which is rough in some areas," Ms. Baker said during the February 10 interview.