Check your children’s transport, schools warn after taxi crash

Paramedics and firefighters on the scene of the taxi crash outside Parliament.

Parents have been urged to vet school-transport drivers and vehicles after a taxi carrying more than 20 school pupils crashed into a bollard outside Parliament.

Eleven children were seriously injured when the 16-seater minibus carrying 21 school pupils and two adults slammed into the steel barricade, on the corner of Roeland and Plein streets, shortly after 7am, on Friday August 20.

Neither the driver nor his vehicle was licensed, according to Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell.

“After the accident, I immediately requested my department to investigate what had happened,” he said.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said the vehicle had clearly been overloaded with children, aged from 6 to 14, from 12 schools in the City Bowl, District Six, Walmer Estate and Salt River.

Their injuries ranged from serious to minor.

“Our pupils’ 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,” said Ms Schäfer

The vehicle had been privately organised by parents to ferry their children to school.

Mr Mitchell urged schools and parents to ensure school transports were safe and that the drivers were competent and licensed.

Dryden Street Primary School principal Stanton Smith said two of his pupils had been in the taxi that morning.

“We had a Grade 1 girl who was at the District Six clinic who was unharmed, though our Grade 6 pupil sustained serious injuries, though is in stable condition and is still being assessed at Red Cross hospital.”

Walmer Estate Primary School principal Denize Kellerman said three of her pupils had been treated for cuts and bruises.

“It was a traumatic experience for all involved, pupils and adults. Parents need to do background checks on these taxi drivers and make sure that they are safe and reliable as well as registered to transport pupils,” she said.

Holy Cross principal Nomthandazo Zweni said four of her pupils had been critically injured but were making a recovery at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. “I am grateful that they are recovering,” she said.

In 2018, a taxi crash claimed the life of Grade 1 Holy Cross pupil Liyabona Mbaba (“School remembers boy killed in crash,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, August 9, 2018)

Provincial police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said Cape Town Central Police were investigating the crash. “A case of reckless and or negligent driving has been registered, no arrest has been made yet. The investigation continues.”