Nearly 200 schools burgled during S. Africa's virus lockdown

By: AFP      Published: 08:54 PM, 13 Apr, 2020
Nearly 200 schools burgled during S. Africa's virus lockdown

South African authorities on Monday reported that close to 200 schools have being broken into in the first 17 days of a five-week anti-coronavirus lockdown. 

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said she was "horrified" after it emerged that 183 schools had been burgled since the lockdown came into effect on March 27. "It is extremely disappointing for criminals, ... to randomly destroy the same infrastructure meant to provide decent spaces of learning and teaching," said the minister in a statement.

With 73 break-ins, eastern Mpumalanga province recorded the most incidents followed by Gauteng -- seat of the capital Pretoria and the economic hub Johannesburg -- with 55 robberies. The attacks have ranged from arson, to theft of computers, printers and even classroom chairs, according to local media reports.

The rash of school attacks come just days after police minister Bheki Cele reported a dramatic fall in crime since South Africa imposed the coronavirus lockdown, crediting a ban on the sale of alcohol for the drop. In his weekly emailed note, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Monday that "it is a great indictment of our society that dozens of schools have been burgled, trashed or burnt to the ground".