Gauteng Education, police pounce on hitch hiking learners

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Johannesburg - Learners, who hitch hike, from schools along Broadway Street were in for a shock on Tuesday when they were confronted by Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy and the police.

Regardless of being provided with money for transport by parents, after school, groups of learners from Athlone Boys, Queens High, Kensington Secondary wait in various garages in the area for lifts from motorists - this saves them about R120 per week.

Responding to a number of complaints from residents about learners' hitch hiking, Creecy joined by police conducted a blitz at Broadway Street in Bez Valley to dissuade learners from hitch hiking as it can be dangerous.

The police took down their names, schools they went to as well as their parents contact details to inform them about their children's behaviour.

When confronted by Creecy, learners came up with excuses like they've missed their buses and begged her not to report them to their school principals as they would be suspended and miss out on their exams.

However, Creecy wouldn't hear of it. "There are consequences for everything you do, if you do wrong things all the time, we have to take action," she told learners.

At least two weeks ago, a Queen's High School learner was killed and another seriously injured close to the school in Broadway, Bez Valley. The learners were knocked down by a vehicle and one learner lost his life.

Speaking to SAnews, Creecy said that after the two incidents, an investigation was launched and the department discovered that kids operate at traffic robots, forcing their way into passengers' vehicles and jumping into the back of bakkies.

"They are posing a danger to traffic on this road. They are posing an incredible danger to themselves, and they are also posing a danger and nuisance to residents and shop owners. If you go down this road, you will see that these kids hang out at every filling station. They are not waiting for transport, they are waiting for vehicles to pull into filling stations and then they jump and force their way into the vehicles.

"We've had to try to stop this. The district director went to every school last week in these areas to address this. The principals were called into the head of department's office on Thursday last week and they explained that they had meetings with parents and phoned them. We said its fine, now what we have to do is an operation with SAPS because there is a by law that prevents people from wondering all over roads and bothering vehicles at traffic robots. We don't want to enforce that by law but when people are posing a risk to themselves and causing traffic problems, we have to do something," Creecy told SAnews.

She added that the operation would be run continuously over the next few weeks until the learners get the message and stop hitch hiking.

"We are going to call their parents and police have their names. The SGB can take disciplinary action against them."