Education

Grade one W Cape child shot on first day of school

AFP, Staff Reporter

A man has been arrested after an Elsies River boy was shot and wounded while on his way to his first day of grade one.

A seven-year-old boy was shot and wounded on his first day of school on Wednesday. (Gallo)

A seven-year-old boy was shot and wounded while on his way to his first day of school on Wednesday in a suburb on the outskirts of Cape Town plagued by gang violence, police said.

The grade one child was accompanied by a 17-year-old boy when a gunman opened fire on them in Elsies River at around 7.40am. Both were wounded.

"The boy was on his way to school when shots were fired," police spokesperson Andrew Traut said.

A 27-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the shooting and will appear in court Thursday on attempted murder charges. It is not yet clear if this is an incidence of gang violence

Last year, 14 schools were shut for two days in the poverty-stricken Cape Flats as gang violence flared in the area. The police created safety corridors for children to walk to school while police officers have been stationed at the hardest-hit schools.

Between 2007 and 2011, 532 murders took place in five gang hotspots in Cape Town, according to police statistics.

While there has been an increase in police presence in the area, teachers said theirs and pupils' safety is under threat. Western Cape Premier Helen Zille also wrote an open letter to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa in August last year, asking him to deploy the army to the Manenberg area.

"Over 50 people have been wounded or killed in gunfire over the past couple of weeks," she said at the time. "Principals at Manenberg schools say that absenteeism has increased dramatically due to ongoing gang violence … teachers at Sonderend primary school have reported that only about 200 of 900 learners attended school last week."

Zille said the army was urgently needed in the area.

"If the police were able to contain the situation, this crisis point would not have been reached … " – Sapa-AFP, additional reporting by Staff Reporter

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