Pupil safety under spotlight after schoolgirl’s attack

The attack on a Port Elizabeth schoolgirl has triggered discussions about changing bus routes to better safeguard pupils by dropping them off at school entrances.

Police said yesterday they were investigating a case of attempted murder and attempted robbery following Wednesday morning’s attack.

Although there were initially fears that the Linkside High pupil may have been raped, a medical report revealed there had been no sexual assault.

The case will now be transferred from the family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit back to Mount Road Police Station detectives.

The teenager, who cannot be identified as she is a minor, was ambushed, dragged into bushes and left for dead while walking to school at about 8am.

A black plastic bag had been pulled over her head.

Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said police received the medical report yesterday.

She said the attacker had demanded the girl’s cellphone.

When she said she did not have one, he threw her to the ground, dragged her into the bushes alongside a gravel road and beat her until she lost consciousness.

The girl was found by a schoolboy who was also on his way to school.

Linkside High principal Henry Graham said Department of Education officials had visited the school yesterday. He referred questions to the department. Provincial education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said: “The pupil insisted on going back to school [yesterday].

“We have, however, made the services of a psychologist available to the school.”

Pulumani said the department was in discussions with Algoa Bus to change the pick-up and drop-off points for pupils.

“We are looking at getting the pupils dropped off right at the school’s doors.

“This would help lessen the risk for pupils who currently walk from where they are dropped off,” he said.

A safety and security team would brief the pupils on security as well as assess the route along which they walked.

Linkside High pupils and parents were shocked, and fearful, following the attack.

Linkside High pupils Adrian Vonsehuedz and Siphakamele Busakwe, both 18, voice security concerns
Picture: Werner Hills

Pupil Adrian Vonsehuedz, 18, said: “This is very bad. It means it’s unsafe for people to walk to school.

“It’s actually not the first time someone has been attacked or robbed along the golf course. The school closed off a path that crosses the golf course to prevent pupils from taking shortcuts.”

Vonsehuedz said they had been told the school would work with Atlas Security company and the police to try to set up some sort of patrol.

Another pupil, Siphakamele Busakwe, 18, said: “I think things should be taken very seriously. I feel she was attacked easily because there was no security.

“Atlas is usually here so I was surprised to hear they were not around at that time.

“I wish the school could provide more security.”

Parent Bradley Hendricks, 42, said: “It could have been my daughter, but she is fortunate her mother and I drop her off and pick her up.

“But it’s an issue in the whole of Port Elizabeth. I’m from the northern areas and you can’t walk to the shop after 8pm.”

Asked about security in the area, Naidu said the policing sector manager had been in contact with the school as well as security companies.

“Combating crime has to be a joint effort with neighbourhood watch groups, security companies and residents,” she said.

“This particular area has a private security contractor’s [Atlas Security] cameras on poles.

“Residents and the school are in contact with their various security providers to discuss security.

“We, as the police, will continue high- visibility patrols in Linkside and the adjoining suburbs.”

On Wednesday, Atlas operations director Mike Burmeister said the incident happened out of view of the cameras. Police are searching for the attacker.

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