Saint Martin's School - Rosettenville

A statement by our Headmaster Thomas Hagspihl - ensuring a safe and tranquil space for our students and staff to learn and develop in

1 March 2022

Recent South African crime statistics released indicate that crime is on the rise in our country. No area is spared from crime and unfortunately St Martin’s was caught up in an incident between the police and a Cash In Transit (CIT) crime syndicate on Monday, 21 February 2022.

Johannesburg residents will know that these CIT heists are common, and we are pleased that the police were able to infiltrate one of the syndicates and we commend them on the apprehension of a large number of the suspects.

This was a traumatic experience for the students and staff who were on campus participating in co-curricular activities. The staff reacted swiftly and immediately applied the lockdown protocols and brought the children under cover until the all-clear was given by the police. Our staff were in regular contact with the police during the incident to ensure that the information provided to us was accurate, to apply our security measures appropriately. We worked hard at keeping our parents informed as much as was possible and to provide them with updates of the situation.

We closed the school on the day following the incident as some of the neighbouring streets remained a crime scene and the police were still present.

The students returned to school on Wednesday, 23 February and we began the day with a prayer session in chapel. An external psychologist also addressed the involved students to debrief the whole incident and to provide help for those traumatized by the incident. Ongoing support will be given to pupils and staff who indicate their need for it.

In the 63 years of St Martin’s history, we have never experienced this type and level of crime. The residents in the area too are in shock. We ask the public not to sensationalize the incident and allow the police to complete their investigations and to continue with their work of eradicating crime in our country.

Unfortunately, the facts around an incident like this are often embellished and exaggerated. There was no shooting on our campus. There were no hand grenades thrown. The helicopters that landed on our fields were Netcare 911 transporting injured SAPS members, not army helicopters. We do not want to minimize the extent of this police operation and we understand the trauma that people have experienced, but we do need to caution against an unrealistic portrayal of what actually happened.

As a school, we will continue to do everything we can, to continue to provide a safe and tranquil space for our students and staff to learn and develop in, and we will not let our great school be discouraged by this isolated incident.

 

Thomas Hagspihl
Headmaster

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