Pupils ‘abandoned’ during school trip

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Relatives of a group of Matatiele matric pupils say they have been “abandoned” in Cape Town by their school after allegedly being caught misbehaving, including abusing alcohol, during a school tour.
Unable to afford the taxi fare back to Matatiele, the youngsters even spent a night at a local police station.
But the director of Advent Comprehensive School, Mandisi Mbobo, claims the four pupils were “running around” Cape Town, after they “jumped out” of the taxi he had scheduled to take them back to Matatiele after being ordered home in disgrace.
There are 60 pupils currently on the school’s annual Grade 12 tour which allows matrics to unwind and take in the sights of Cape Town prior to their all-important final exams. They are due back in Matatiele on Saturday.
Western Cape police spokesperson Siyabulela Malo confirmed that three girls and a boy had been sheltered overnight on Tuesday at Philippi East police station.
“The Eastern Cape department of education has been contacted for assistance. The learners were transported from Philippi East today (Wednesday) without any harm to reunite with other learners in Cape Town who are on tour," Malo said.
The provincial education department was informed of the “disturbing incident” via its customer care line on Wednesday, said department spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani.
“We have received a full report from Mr Mbobo about the whole ordeal as you also understand it. We are now following up with a Captain Xulu in Philippi and will intervene to ensure the safe passage of the affected learners,” Pulumani said.
The 60 pupils left the school in Maluti near Matatiele on Saturday. As has been the case for the past 11 years, the matrics are staying at a Christian youth camp in Strandfontein, Cape Town.
On Monday afternoon, 13 pupils, who are mostly between 20 and 21 years old, were caught by teachers with liquor, according to Mbobo. “We immediately held a disciplinary hearing, and eight of the pupils admitted they were wrong.
“But there were five pupils who were arrogant and refused to accept the punishment, which w ould involve detaining them at the camp and not allowing them to enjoy the activities, like going to malls,” Mbobo said.
He was uncertain where the pupils had procured the liquor, but he did say the school group had visited the popular Century City lifestyle complex.
Because the pupils allegedly refused to accept their punishment, Mbobo decided to send them back to Matatiele.
“I phoned a (minibus) taxi to take them back to Matatiele on Tuesday. But the taxi driver told me that he saw that the pupils were drunk at the rank, and just before he was about to leave, four of the five pupils jumped out the taxi. One of them stayed in and is on the way back home. But the other four are now running around Cape Town. Maybe they are using the money their parents sent them. I have tried calling them, but they have switched off their phones.”
Mputume Kafu, the uncle of one of the pupils, has a different story, however.
Confirming that he was speaking on behalf of the girl’s family, Kafu said his niece had told him that the pupils had handed themselves over to police in the Cape Town township of Philippi and spent Tuesday night at the station.
He confirmed that his niece was one of the pupils caught with liquor.
“I have phoned him (Mbobo) and explained the situation to him, and told him I don’t have money for the taxi fare back to Matatiele. He told me he also doesn’t have money for the taxi. He told me these children broke the rules, and did not want to listen, so he sent them home,” Kafu said.
“She’s very frightened now because she doesn’t know how she’s going to get back home. These kids have been abandoned by the school.”
Mbobo said prior to the school group’s departure on Saturday, he had warned the pupils that liquor and illicit substances would not be tolerated on the trip.
johnh@dispatch.co.za..

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