One teenage girl held a poster – emblazoned with the words, “I was raped on my walk to school” – outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday.
This action was part of an Equal Education-led protest for government to provide needy children with scholar transport.
Another child’s poster read: “I cross rivers to get to school,” and another’s said: “My rights are violated”.
A Grade 11 student at Sihlungu High School in Nquthu said the lack of transport was a problem because he had to walk hours to get to school.
“I leave home at 4am to attend early morning Maths and Physics classes. They start at 6.30am.”
He said: “I sometimes have to walk in the rain, and in winter it’s often still quite dark and cold. We have to walk through a (remote) area, which can be dangerous because students risk getting raped, mugged and even kidnapped.
Some days, I have to attend extra lessons, and by the time I reach home, it’s dark.”
Equal Education was expected argue their case before a judge on Tuesday morning but the matter was stood down.
The rights organisation wants him to declare the departments’ failure to provide scholar transport for pupils at 12 Nquthu schools, a violation of their constitutional rights.
It also wants the relevant departments’ decisions to refuse these children scholar transport – because of budgetary restraints and their deeming the schools, ‘schools of choice’ as opposed to ‘schools of need’ – reviewed and set aside.
Finally, it wants the departments to provide the court with a report on the status of scholar transport in KZN.