Terror as gunmen storm suburban school, guns blazing
The armed robbery attack took place while Edenvale High pupils were writing exams
Like any other day, Edenvale real estate agent Nicole Vermeulen was busy uploading property for sale on a website on Thursday morning when she heard a loud bang, and then about 20 more gunshots.
Little did she know Edenvale High School staff were in that moment being forced at gunpoint to hand over R8,000 in cash, money saved up for a school trip. But a teacher’s WhatsApp voice note to the local community policing forum would soon see the deployment of police, who shot dead two of the intruders.
“I thought it was a firecracker, and I turned and looked out the window and saw four suspects running towards our offices,” she told Times Select.
“It was a very traumatising experience. We all just ducked and waited for it to quiet down.”
Vermeulen, whose office is across from Edenvale High School on Johannesburg’s East Rand, said she grabbed her phone and alerted the police and residents in the local community safety group.
She and her colleagues then locked the security gates and hid in the passage of their office.
“What school is going to be next? Where we send our kids is not safe any more.”
The estate agency is on the corner of Linksfield Road in Edenvale, a few metres away from the school – and the local police station.
Two suspected robbers were killed in a shooting at the school gate on Thursday morning. A third suspect, who was shot in the head, survived the shooting and was transported to hospital under police guard.
Police spokesperson Kay Makhubela said an unknown number of men had sped off and police were still searching for them.
Shortly after the incident, an AK47 could be seen lying near the school gate. Five unlicensed firearms were recovered from the scene.
School principal Larry Harmer said the school was equipped with a lockdown system and a camera at the front gate. Harmer said a man stopped at the gate claiming he was collecting his child at the school.
“We opened the gate and, as soon as he got in, robbers in a second car tailgated him. We saw them coming on the camera, but by the time we were on lockdown they were in the front office,” Harmer said.
He said the group of armed men jumped through the windows of the school’s reception area and demanded to be taken to the safe. “They found no money in the safe. There is a smaller safe where we keep all of our cash, and they didn’t even see it. They then went into the offices and tried to smash down my walls.”
The pupils were busy with exams at the time.
He said within minutes, the CPF responded with the police.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said schools were being targeted by criminals.
“It is becoming clearer and clearer by the day that we are becoming sitting ducks for criminals. Our schools are targets, and we are exposing our children to incidents that we don’t have to,” Lesufi said.
Lesufi said the robbers managed to “lay their hands” on about R8,000 that was not in the safe. The money was saved for a school trip.
The school will remain closed until Monday.
“What kind of society are we that we even rob schools? What kind of society are we turning into that we even risk the lives of our own children? If those answers are not forthcoming, we need to know that we need to something, and we need to do something urgently,” Lesufi said.