According to a report released by Arrive Alive, the rule comes into effect from May 11 and means that children and other persons may still be transported in the goods compartment of the vehicle – but only if it is not done for money.
The ruling has been welcomed by the KwaZulu-Natal Parents Association (KZNPA).
Speaking to the Daily News, KZNPA chairperson Vee Gani said any measures or restrictions put in place to avoid the unnecessary deaths of pupils on roads were welcome.
Gani said he thought the amendment was a start, but not enough to curb the pupil death toll.
“We need to also address the issues of unlicensed drivers and unroadworthy vehicles that also contribute to pupil fatalities on our roads,” he said.
Since the start of this school year, there have been several minibus taxi crashes with schoolchildren as passengers.
On the first day of school this year, four pupils travelling in a minibus taxi to school were killed when it crashed into a bus in Ntuzuma. Last week, 23 pupils were injured when the taxi they were travelling in overturned in eManzimtoti. The next day, 11 children were injured when a minibus taxi overturned in Newlands East.
The provincial transport department has taken a tough stance on those who transport pupils in bakkies. The department’s Mluleki Mntungwa said they had not waited for the amendment to come into effect and had been targeting bakkies transporting pupils for weeks.
“Part of our Easter safety plan included impounding those vehicles and imposing harsh fines,” he said.
Mntungwa added that the department ran a transport programme that currently catered for rural areas across the greater KZN district.
Currently, the programme provides transport for 43 700 beneficiaries across 320 schools in the province.
It is unclear whether the department has plans to roll out the programme to other areas outside of rural KZN.
Deadly school trips
Thirona Moodley of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa said it was unfortunate that most children still travelled distances to get to school and were forced to use some form of transport.
She said the constant transport budget cuts for pupils was slowly but surely affecting teaching and learning and more and more children were dying in road accidents on their way to school.
“There have been severe cuts in the national budget allocations and the pupil transport programme has been one of the affected areas.
“This has prevented more schools from benefiting and as a result, out of desperation, parents turn to unroadworthy private transport and public transport such as minibus taxis in order for their children to get to school,” she said.
She said private pupil transport providers who were transporting children to school were community-based and only saw the service as a business rather than a service to the children who are the future.
Moodley said the recent accidents should be a wake-up call for both the Education and Transport departments as well as parents.
She appealed to parents to make sure that their children travelled to school safely.
She said the problem was a national crisis that required a national intervention.
“There has to be a national resolution that would save our children from these road crashes. Children transported to school should be protected.
“The condition of the vehicles they travel in should be safe. Children are over-loaded in these taxis.
“They hang out the windows and there is just no order. Extra care should be taken,” she added.
Allen Thompson, National Teachers’ Union deputy president, cited the lack of resources at township schools as the reason for more and more pupils in need of school transport.