Western Cape education MEC disputes parliament's claim that pupil died in crash outside its gates

20 August 2021 - 16:40 By philani nombembe
The scene outside parliament in Cape Town on August 20 2021 after a taxi carrying 22 schoolchildren crashed into a bollard.
The scene outside parliament in Cape Town on August 20 2021 after a taxi carrying 22 schoolchildren crashed into a bollard.
Image: City of Cape Town

Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schäfer has poked holes in parliament's claim that a pupil died in a minibus taxi crash outside its gates on Friday morning.

A taxi hit a steel bollard, injuring  the schoolchildren it was transporting. Shortly afterwards, parliament issued a statement conveying condolences to family and friends of a pupil it claimed died in the accident.

“The presiding officers of parliament, led by the speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Amos Masondo, have conveyed heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the school pupil who tragically died as a result of a devastating taxi crash outside one of the entrances of parliament this morning,” the statement said.

But Schäfer said: “We have checked with the SA Police Service, emergency medical service, the hospitals — no death of a learner reported. It appears that the statement from parliament was incorrect.”

Schäfer said her department “was notified of a vehicle accident in the centre of town involving 21 pupils. The vehicle crashed into the steel barricades outside the national parliament. The pupils are reportedly from 12 different schools, largely within the city bowl and Walmer Estate areas. Their ages range from 6 to 14.”

She said 21 pupils and two adults were in the minibus taxi when it crashed. “This is clearly overloading.

“The injuries of the learners range from serious to minor, with learners being sent to Red Cross Hospital, Somerset Hospital, Green Point Clinic and District Six Clinic.

“Some of the principals were on the scene and have accompanied learners to the various hospitals and clinics. The parents of the learners are being notified. The Western Cape education department metro central specialised support team is on standby for assistance with requests for counselling and psychological support.”

Schäfer said she had been “advised” that the driver is allegedly unlicensed, the vehicle is allegedly not licensed and that there is allegedly no operating licence.

“The images of the accident are horrific. We have been in contact with our colleagues from the department of transport and public works regarding investigation of these matters and what action can be taken,” she said.  

“Our learners' lives matter. Their safety matters. This kind of reckless and irresponsible behaviour by the driver and/or owners of this vehicle must not go unpunished.”

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