‘Check on your child’s driver’

2016-11-22 06:00

The founder of the Philisa Abafazi Bethu Women and Children’s Project is concerned whether parents are checking out who is taking their children to school and looking after them after school.

A Seawinds community was left reeling when an eight-year-old was allegedly raped by her schoolbus driver, a 47-year-old man also from the area, on Wednesday 9 November.

It is alleged that he has raped her more than once since February. The alleged assaults came to light when the victim took her friend to the driver’s house.

Lucinda Evans, founder of Philisa Abafazi Bethu Women and Children’s Project, says her organisation will demonstrate at the Muizenberg Magistrate’s Court when the accused appears on Friday.

“We want to say no to bail and we want the man to get three life sentences. We can’t allow a man like him to be back in our community. He must stay there.

“We are calling on people to join us as we will be picketing outside court,” she says.

Evans says parents are not asking the right questions of school drivers and after-school caregivers.

“We are concerned that parents are letting their children travel with drivers who are not screened or vetted. That should not happen out of desperation for transport because children are faced with abuse. Parents must know that it goes beyond having a public driving permit. Parents must ensure that the person who is transporting their child doesn’t have a criminal record.

“Ask to see a clearance certificate – it’s within your right,” she says.

Evans says parents trust drivers too easily.

“Most parents don’t ask. They are just in a rush to get transport and they don’t do research. Parents should ask about accident insurance, a child protection policy. It’s a pity that we see schoolbuses which are meant to be carrying 14 children with more than 20.

“This must not be about the money. The department of transport must regulate the transport. Permits should not be issued to drivers without proper screening, especially if they will be transporting children,” she says.

Her other worry is that when parents are looking for after-care programmes they should ask if the facilitators are fit to be with their children.

“Ask a lot of questions. Don’t just give out your child blindly. We can’t let our children be at risk because we as parents are not asking the right questions,” says Evans.

Drivers who need screening information and parents who need more information about their rights can look her up.

“We are not on a head hunt to see if all drivers are fit for our children. All we want is a safe society. Drivers who need help can come to us and parents as well.”

V Call the Philisa Abafazi Bethu Women and Children’s Project on 021 802 4030.

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