191114. Queens High School learners getting off the bakkie in Joburg Park Station after hitch hike from school the JMPD is complaining and they are appealing to the motorist not to give lift to the learners. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg - A new form of car hijacking is emerging – this time being committed by uniformed Joburg schoolchildren.

After school, the children, not wanting to spend their transport money on taxis and other public transport, illegally climb onto the back of trucks and bakkies being driven by unsuspecting motorists, and even pull open private motorists’ car doors and pile in without permission.

They often place fellow pupils in front of the vehicles at traffic lights, forcing cars to stop so they can climb in.

And the Joburg metro police department (JMPD), which calls the trend “staff riding”, has its hands tied, as, technically, no offence is committed.

“We have had numerous complaints from alarmed motorists and bakkie drivers. It appears to be a trivial offence but it infringes on the rights of motorists,” JMPD Superintendent Arthur Adendorff said.

The children also stand at the back of the bakkies, putting themselves in danger.

HAZARDOUS

“The unbalanced weight at the back of a bakkie can cause steering problems, and in case of an accident, could have serious implications for the driver, both in terms of being criminally charged for overloading and for insurance claims, which could be nullified,” he pointed out.

The children are placing themselves in severe danger as they could get hooked and dragged if the driver pulls off without realising what is happening.

Adendorff said this new trend was happening in many areas around the city, close to fairly affluent schools.

“It’s not a case of desperate children needing lifts home. Most of the schools have subsidised provincial transport. These are fee-paying children who want to use their transport money for other things,” he said.

Among suburbs affected were Kensington, Bez Valley, Booysens, Forest Town and Milpark, although it was spreading fast.

Adendorff said a series of meetings and education campaigns would be held at the affected schools next year.

The Star

Article udated at 12:50pm, 24 November 2014 to remove the caption reference to Queens High School which was used incorrectly.