We will not allow rogue drivers to kill our children – KZN education MEC tells mourners

2017-01-19 23:12
Mthandeni Dlungwana (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Mthandeni Dlungwana (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Footage from the scene of the crash that claimed 4 pupils' lives

2017-01-11 11:11

The beginning of the school year was mired by tragedy on Wednesday when four scholars, three boys and a girl, were killed in a minibus taxi accident on Ingcebo Road.WATCH

Durban - KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana has vowed to put a stop to "rogue drivers" killing children.

"We will not allow that. We will protect our children," said an emotional Dlungwana, speaking at the memorial service of four pupils who died in a tragic accident on the first day of the school year last week Wednesday.

The service was held at the KwaMashu Christian Centre.

A day of excitement for Thabisile Myeni, 16, Ntobeko Ngidi, 16, Sicelokuhle Khumalo-Rubushe and Sibusiso Sibiya quickly turned into tragedy when they were killed after a minibus taxi crashed into a bus on Nyala Road.

It is believed that the taxi they were travelling in was overloaded as about 20 other pupils were still recovering from the accident.

"What kind of a person takes children and stuffs them into a bus or a taxi and then drives recklessly, killing the children. People cannot say that we should not judge."

Dlungwana said one had to speak up when others did wrong.

"That is why these owners of buses, taxis and business people should work with us... Can they [owners] assure us that when they transport our children, that they get sober-minded people because someone can have a drivers licence but they are not responsible enough to think about another. He is not responsible enough to transport our children to school."

No scholar transport in townships

Dlungwana also urged pupils not to get into overloaded vehicles.

Responding to the community's plea for the department to provide communities with better scholar transport, head of department Dr Enoch Nzama said transport was provided to schools in rural areas.

"This is where children walk long distances to school. In townships, like Umlazi, KwaMashu and Nanda, the schools are in close proximity of one another. What we need to fix is the quality of teaching in all the schools so that learners don't have to travel long distances to schools."

He said the department could not provide buses for schools in townships.

"What hurts the most about this is that this accident could have been prevented, and it happened on the first day of school, a day when children are excited, they have new bags and school uniforms, it is sad."

He urged pupils at Sivananda and Sibonelo high schools to use this tragedy to do better on behalf of the late peers.  

"We are going to change the performance of schools in KwaMashu, there will be no school that will perform under 75%," he said.

'Greed to blame'

Sadtu provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said the accident had highlighted some of the challenges that country faced around public transport.  

"Even though we have transport in our areas, [the vehicles] are not in good condition. What is sad about these accidents, there is always human error."

She told teachers to remain strong.

"Our teachers are hurt at these schools. Our teachers are bleeding because of this accident, because we are not only teachers, we also assume the position of being their parents."

Teachers spend more time with pupils than their parents, she said.

"We can see the pain in their teachers."

Caluza, who urged the community to let the police deal with the matter, also blamed greed and recklessness on the part of taxi operators for the children's deaths.

"Most of these accidents are caused by greed, the driver wants as many passengers in the car as possible. They also do not obey the rules of the road."

Read more on:    durban  |  accidents

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