WATCH: Fuming parents of unplaced pupils say: 'Scrap the online system'
While thousands of pupils attended their third day of school on Friday, scores of frustrated parents hopelessly formed long queues at various centres in Pretoria in a bid to get their children placed.
Veronica Mashaba, the 69-year-old grandmother of a grade 1 pupil, said she had tried to approach the Mamelodi Teachers' Development Centre since Monday with no luck.
“My grandson was accepted at a school very far from our home. I complained in December and they said I will get assistance after seven days, but I have not been helped,” she told TimesLIVE.
Mashaba said despite joining the queues at 6am, her bid to get assistance was unsuccessful as she was turned back and told to return on Friday.
Another parent of a grade 8 pupil, Zanele Mabuza, has the same problems. She criticised the online application system which she said did not serve the interests of the "majority".
Parents queued at various centres from as early as 2am but some were turned away in the afternoon.
“It is stressful. One has to wonder why this system has not been scrapped. It is clear from the number of people here that it doesn’t serve us as parents” Mabuza said.
She expressed concern about how she had to miss work, and worried about her child falling behind.
On Wednesday morning, she took time off work to queue for several hours, only to be told to try again on Thursday.
Some parents said they had approached their preferred schools but were turned away and told to return with a letter from the department of education.
On Friday, Mabuza said she was hopeful because she was at Wonderbooom district centre where the queues were minimal.
Another affected parent, Frans Machate, took to Facebook to detail his frustration and filmed the long queues.
“I am part of those affected parents and my children (grades 1 and 8) are still at home because they have not been placed where we applied for placements, closer to our home/workplace. There has not been any feedback on the objections and appeals we made against the placements,” he wrote.
Machate accused the department of being silent on the subject but Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi clapped back on the allegations.
“Accuse us of something but not of being ‘non-responsive’. Why will we approach institutions like Curro to accommodate learners for us if we are non-responsive? What should we do if 3,000 parents apply at a school that can only accommodate 180 and all 3,000 parents want the same school?” wrote Lesufi.
In a statement released on Wednesday, which was the first day for late applications, Lesufi said 10,191 pupils had successfully applied and been placed at different schools.
While the number of those who remained unplaced was not clear, Lesufi said the processing of late applications had run smoothly.
Lesufi said earlier that the online system did not have issues. He said the problem was a matter of preference among parents.
Themba Masango, leader of NotInMyName, said it was "painful" to see pupils stranded despite their parents submitting applications on time.
He slammed the system, which he said benefited "privileged people".
“The system needs to be relooked at because it favours privileged people over others. There are marginalised people who do not have immediate access to the internet."