Mamelodi preschoolers traumatised by attack on US students
Mom shot as robbers snatch phones, cash, bags, laptops and passports from students and professors
An attack on international students on Monday in Mamelodi is a major threat to the existence of the Viva Foundation School in Mamelodi East, Pretoria, says CEO Meleney Kriel.
A group of American students and two professors, in the country on invitation by the University of Pretoria, came under attack on Monday afternoon shortly after they arrived at the school for an outreach programme.
“We are extremely upset about what happened. Safety is of paramount importance to us, and it was never breached. Our learners are shaken and traumatised,” said Kriel.
The mother of one of the children at the preschool was struck by a stray bullet, while Kriel’s daughter sustained head injuries after being assaulted by the attackers.
According to police, a group of at least five armed attackers accosted the visitors and robbed them of cameras, passports, plane tickets, bags and US dollars.
Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said that as a matter of urgency, a team of detectives was tasked to work round the clock and mobilise all necessary resources towards the apprehension of the robbers.
According to police, the suspects got away in a white Toyota Quantum with no registration numbers.
Kriel said the success of the organisation relied on investors visiting and seeing their work. “So if they don’t feel safe doing it then we are in trouble. It threatens our very existence. Criminals cannot take that away from us,” she said.
She spent Tuesday visiting her daughter and the wounded parent in hospital.
“It was horrible, all the blood and fear was a lot to go through. They took my daughter’s handbag.
“As for our guests, a group of 19 international students and two professors, they took everything they had on them ... cellphones, money, bags, laptops, you name it,” Kriel told Times Select.
As a matter of priority, the organisation is upgrading its security. “We are also grateful that the police are prioritising our case. The police are doing their best so far.
“My whole family is shaken and threatened by this.”
The visiting students are now being taken care of by the university.
Police management in the province condemned the incident in the strongest of terms.
“This blatant disrespect for the law to a point of not caring about the safety of the little children of this particular preschool is a blatant attack on, and undermining, the authority of the state,” warned provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela.
Anyone with information that could help apprehend the suspects is urged to call the Mamelodi SAPS or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.