Kids bunk class to march

2012-08-23 00:00

PUPILS from various schools in Howick marched to the Umngeni Municipality offices and demanded to see Mayor Mbali Myeni about issues of youth development and job creation.

The Education Department is planning to lay charges against the organisers.

Spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said MEC Senzo Mchunu was angry that the children had missed lessons at a time when schools were aiming to complete their syllabuses.

There was also the issue of indemnity for the students travelling on buses and being outside school. The MEC had also questioned whether the children had permission from their parents and said he found it curious that they were collected at the school premises, in their uniforms. He asked why was the march not held over the weekend or after school.

The pupils, of all grades, from Asibemunye High, Mthombowolwazi High, Mpophomeni High School and Zamthuli Higher Primary School travelled from Mpophomeni to Howick in five buses and waved printed placards as part of their protest.

They marched from Howick Falls to the municipal offices, where they handed a memorandum to acting municipal manager Stephen Simpson and the mayor.

The demands were for the municipality to give them bursaries, for a FET college to be built in the area and for the Mpophomeni Stadium to be upgraded to cater for all sporting codes.

“We want to have a swimming pool so that we can compete in the Olympics,” the pupils shouted.

Xolani Ndlovu, the youth leader who organised the march, said they were tired of nepotism and corruption in the municipality, alleging that bursaries and internships were given to candidates who were close to the councillors and the officials.

He alleged that the municipality was hiring people from Pietermaritzburg and Durban and not giving jobs to the people living in the uMngeni area.

Ndlovu said the municipality should give incentives to small businesses to set up factories in Howick.

On Monday, The Witness reported that Ndlovu had been hired by the uMngeni general manager for internal audit, Mathe Ndlela, and then fired on the same day because he had refused to stop the march. Myeni said the matter was under investigation.

The marchers gave the municipality seven days to respond to the demands and one month to act on them.

Myeni accepted the memorandum and told journalists later that some of the issues raised were not within the competency of the municipality. They would require the provincial and national government to intervene.

Onlookers questioned where the funds for the buses and posters had come from and whether the children had permission to be out of school.

The marchers told The Witness that they had sponsorship from certain local businesses.

Ndlovu said they had permission, but did not say from whom.

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