Sibusiso Malaza lied he’d assist farm school learners who are forced to walk 21km

The parents wrote a letter to the MEC, “humbly” requesting him to assist them save their children’s future.

Mpumalanga education MEC Sibusiso Malaza lied when he said he would do something to ensure that something is done to assist dozens of farm school learners who have been left without a scholar transport since February 2018.

The kids are forced to walk at least 21 kilometres to and from school after they were told that a government-appointed bus will no longer transport them.

Malaza received a letter from the parents of Engelsedraai Combined School in Grootkop farm near Badplaas and in the letter, dated 1 August 2018, the parents tell the MEC that since February 2018 their children have been battling to reach school after a government-appointed bus withdrew from transporting them.

They tell the MEC that the children walk over 10km to school and another back home and have tried to hire a bakkie but the money that the bakkie-owner wants is too much and “it’s difficult for us to pay as most of us are unemployed [on the farm], depend on social grants”.

They also tell Malaza that efforts by the school principal as well as its governing body to get authorities from the Badplaas education circuit office to help them have been met with “no answers”.

School governing body chairwoman Happy Ginindza said they expect the children will fail their subjects as in most cases the kids are absent from school.

“From Grade R to Grade 9 the children are affected. Of the 176 kids that the school has I’d say about 46 are seriously challenged and are frequently absent from classes,” she said.

“Some have bicycles but are not good enough to travel 10,7km every morning and afternoon, which is more than 21km per day and sometimes the bicycles break while they use them and they come late to school or home, which really is not right,” the SGB member said.

“Also the children who are younger, those in Grade 1 to 5 you can’t expect them to ride bicycles because the bicycles we got from the government are bigger than them and they can’t travel these kilometres as they are too young,” she said when speaking to the 013NEWS a week ago.

In the letter to Malaza, the parents say they were able to hire bakkies that used to transport the kids immediately after the government-appointed bus withdrew but “we are unemployed parents, we depend on social grants and it is difficult for us to afford paying the bakkies transporting our children to school”.

They say numerous requests have been made to the circuit office to assist them get back their bus but “since then nothing has happened” and now “we humbly request our honourable MEC to intervene in this matter to be solved and our children to be provided with scholar transport,” the letter reads.

When contacted on 7 August 2018 – at least 6 days after Malaza got the letter, his spokesman Jasper Zwane said the MEC has received it and had now been forwarded to the public works department.

“Yes, we have received the letter. I can confirm. We have formally requested the department of public works to assist the children,” Zwane said over the phone.

But public works MEC Gillion Mashego’s spokesman Cyril Dlamini said no such request or letter was received from Malaza.

“No, there was no letter received,” Dlamini said, adding once a request is received from Malaza they will then help the kids “in accordance with the Scholars Transport Policy”.

Returning to the SGB’s Ginindza, she said: “Those people are playing with us. Perhaps that’s because it’s not their kids who are affected. This government my God”.

(edited by ZK)

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