Pupils ignore right to education

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Like flies to a honey-pot, pupils in different school uniforms converge on Malukirwe Entertainment Centre in the Johannesburg CBD.

Coming from all directions, they distinguish themselves from the regular humdrum of the city by the oneness of their purpose.

Some walk hand-in-hand, while others come in groups.

On Fridays, schools are normally out at 1pm.

But it is not yet noon and the centre is already abuzz with gym-slipped and grey-flannelled patrons.

Curious to find out what makes these pupils bunk classes and run to this place in hordes, my colleague Thobeka Zazi and I enter Malukirwe.

The cigarette smoke fills the room and the sound of music is deafening.

Five girls in skimpy skirts at one corner are guzzling Savannahs and puffing at cigarettes.

The centre does not sell alcohol on its premises but allows patrons to bring their own.

In fact, there are rules written on the wall in big letters: "No drinking", "no smoking ganja" and "no weapons".

We ask where the girls obtained their alcoholic drinks.

The woman at the counter says they do not sell liquor but people are allowed to bring drinks on to the premises.

She shows us a bottle store across the road.

We also learn that pupils in uniforms are not allowed to bring in alcohol either.

But pupils are smart and inventive.

They either hide their concoctions in soft drink bottles or take off their shirts and ties before they enter.

Once inside they share drinks with those in uniforms and nobody seems to care.

The guy who works in the centre says the police will come at any time.

"My people tell me," he says. "But don't worry my friend, I will hide your stuff."

Police do not come.

As more bottles become empty, smooching is galore.

Four teenage lovers behind us are enjoying the kissing.

One who looks younger than 15, is on her boyfriend's lap and his hands are groping all over her body.

But not everyone is enjoying the game.

One girl is weeping uncontrollably near the toilet because her boyfriend failed to arrive.

The drama does not stop.

One boy, who had been smoking dagga with friends in the centre's only toilet, falls down head first.

His equally goofed friends help him up and he leaves.

The slot machines and pool tables are hardly being used despite the full house.

It seems pupils in Johannesburg believe that the doors of taverns shall be open.