Explosives used to blow open Port Elizabeth school safe
High school pupils at the St Marks Community School in Framesby are being sent home following an overnight burglary at the Cape Road school in which explosives were used to blow open an office safe.
Police– including the explosives unit – have been on the scene since early on Thursday, cordoning off the entrance and using dogs to search the premises for a secondary device.
The burglary has been described as “professional” as the alarms were bypassed and were not triggered when the burglars cut open roof sheeting to access the building.
Police spokesperson Captain Johan Rheeder said it appeared the incident happened sometime between 8pm on Wednesday and before 6.30am on Thursday.
“The last staff member left at 8pm and all was in order and the doors locked. At about 6:30am, one of the staff opened the front door to the office block and smelt something burning,” he said.
“The police were notified. So far, what we have established is that the suspect gained entry to the school premises by cutting the perimeter fence. Once inside the school premises, the suspects climbed onto the roof and cut through the sheeting.”
The suspects climbed into the building and ripped the alarm system out of the wall.
“They then forced open a door and gained entry to the room which holds the safe.”
The K9 unit explosives detection dog was used to comb the building looking for other suspicious devices or unused explosives.
“The school has been cleared by the Explosive Unit and the K9 Unit. It is safe. Detectives are now going to go into the school to gather clues and work the crime scene,” he said.
Rheeder said it was not yet known what type of explosive was used to “force open.
“It is also unclear what exactly was stolen at this stage but we suspect money was the target,” he said.
School principal Reverend Andrew Lamont-Turner said the situation was under control.
“The primary [school] is back in class already and the high school learners are being sent home as the police are planning to be on the scene for a while,” he said.
“At the moment they [high school pupils] are in the church.”
Lamont-Turner said they would only be able to determine later, once they were allowed back inside the admin building, what had been stolen and the extent of the damage.