Eastern Cape departments hauled to court over lack of scholar transport

Published Apr 4, 2024


With about 40 000 pupils still left without any scholar transport in the Eastern Cape, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) has turned to the courts on behalf of the affected pupils.

This after the provincial treasury MEC Mlungisi Mvoko, during last month’s budget speech, said they were “committing” to the scholar transport programme by increasing the budget. However, the department has yet to confirm the amount to be made available.

As the second academic quarter got under way this week, thousands of pupils were still subjected to walking long distances to get to their schools as they have done since the beginning of this year, despite qualifying for such transport.

The LRC said pupils who were left without transport, in their quest to pursue their studies, had had to “leave their immediate families behind to temporarily relocate to be closer to school, or pay for expensive private transport which many cannot afford”.

Eastern Cape Education Department spokesperson Mali Mtima said: “This matter is being handled by the Department of Transport. This is because scholar transport is their mandate. Therefore, it befits that this matter is handled by them. They are taking a lead in this legal action.”

Enquiries to the Transport Department were not answered by deadline.

The LRC said the legal action was launched after efforts to engage with the departments proved to be futile.

The urgent application seeks to compel the departments to provide scholar transport to those eligible and qualifying learners who are not currently being provided with scholar transport. The matter is expected to be heard in court on May 2.

The LRC said: “The failure to process applications or the decision to stop providing transport to some many qualifying learners has meant untold hardship for learners and their families.

“This application requires the (departments) to process outstanding scholar transport applications, develop and implement a catch-up plan for learners who have missed school on account of not receiving scholar transport, and devise a plan to ensure that a similar failure does not occur at the start of the 2025 academic year.”

A pupil said that they must “cross the Mncwasa and Mpame rivers to get to school”.

“The two rivers do not have any bridges to use to cross.

“I have to take off my school uniform and get in the water, which is very cold, and it gets worse in winter,” the pupil said.

“During the rainy season or when the rivers have overflowed, I cannot go to school because it is dangerous to cross the rivers.”

Cape Times