WESTERN Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer says she is concerned about the public transport disruptions caused by the taxi violence. The disruptions might pose a risk to learners who were due to start school today.
Schools across the country are reopening on Monday. This comes at a time when taxi violence in the Western Cape is rife.
Schafer appealed to the instigators to put an end to the fighting.
“Apart from the damage you are doing to our already fragile economy, you will be preventing learners once again from attending school. They have lost out so much over the last year. As it is, it will impact on their future and that of the economy. Any further losses can NOT be afforded. They also need to access the school feeding programme, which many rely on.
“No doubt some among you have children yourselves, so you know how serious the situation in education is right now. We all need to think of our children’s safety and their futures right now, so the violence and disruption needs to stop.”
Over the weekend, the South African Scholar-Transporters Association (Sasta), Western Cape Provincial Task Team, informed parents and schools that it would not be operating when schools reopened.
“It is with great sadness that due to the danger that the taxi industry is putting us in, we, as scholar drivers, have decided not to transport during this time, for the safety of your children and ourselves.
“Apologies for the inconvenience but our lives as well as the lives of your children is more important,” the Sasta provincial task team said.
It reassured parents and schools that it would begin operating again when the situation improved.
WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond confirmed that there was poor attendance of learners at school on Monday, especially in the City Bowl and surroundings.
“These ’commuter schools’ generally have a high enrolment of learners from areas on the outskirts of the city centre, with learners travelling on public transport. One taxi association that commutes learners privately also didn’t operate today due to the threats of violence, which affected attendance. We are, however, thankful that no reported incidents of violence affecting learners has been reported,” said Hammond.
On Saturday, Department of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that schools would be reopening on July 26. She said that in the first week, schools would be following the rotational attendance model, and from August 2, schools would be doing daily attendance.
However, the taxi violence is prohibiting learners who use minibus taxis to get to school.
The taxi conflict is between rival taxi associations Cata and Codeta. The root of the conflict is the use of the B97 minibus taxi route that runs between Bellville and Mbekweni, Paarl.
Efforts by Transport MEC Daylin Mitchell, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and other provincial officials to find a solution have failed.
Cata and Codeta have since stopped operating in Nyanga, Gugulethu and Khayelitsha, among other areas. Few buses are operating in these areas too.
However, there are reports of informal talks taking place between the various parties.