SPECIAL REPORT | The pain of the African child

At the crack of dawn, more than two dozen pupils from Waaikraal farms near Delmas in Mpumalanga are getting ready for a gruelling 10km to 22km walk to catch a bus to school.

The debilitating journey along a rutted gravel road takes the pupils into dark and dangerous farmland bushes which they must navigate on their own or hitch a hike from strangers to get to the bus stop on time.

The bus company owner, who did not want to give his name, said he had instead opted for a central pick-up point for all pupils from around the farms after the government refused to pay him for the extra kilometres he travelled to drop off the learners.

Sifiso Skosana was habitually late to school at Mafa Max Motloung High School in Delmas, Mpumalanga, because he had to travel a long distance to catch scholar transport.

On rainy days, Skosana would simply abscond from school because the dirt road he used to get to the bus stop was simply unsafe and muddy.

The Mpumalanga department of public works, which is responsible for providing scholar transport, says pupils from Dorsfontein and Eisterfontein farms were not on the scholar transport list submitted by the department of education. 

It is investigating why the bus company it contracted is not adhering to the agreement to pick up all pupils.

The department spokesperson, Cyrill  Dlamini, said the department is currently engaging with the Gauteng government after realising that the children were not on their list.

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