The Eastern Cape Transport Department said it was not a criminal matter because he was not caught drinking while driving.
Cape Town – In March this year, 26 bus passengers died after it plunged down a ravine while en route to Butterworth, Eastern Cape.
Another tragedy could have been in the making last week after a bus driver allowed a pupil to drive while standing next to her, a bottle of beer in hand, while occasionally providing directions. The bus was reportedly filled to capacity with pupils.
The Moshesh Agricultural High School scholar bus operator, which services eight schools in the area, has since lost its contract with the Eastern Cape Department of Education after it was alerted to the incident when a video of the incident went viral.
“The department learnt of the matter through social media and the operator has since been served with a suspension letter, while alternative measures are being implemented to ensure learners are not left stranded,” department spokesperson Malibonge Mtima told EWN.
A letter sent by the department to the operator stated: “We have learnt of misconduct by your driver at the Moshesh Agricultural High School on the 16th of October 2020, where a driver of a bus with registration number JBK123EC allowed a girl learner to drive a bus whilst the driver was having a beer.
’’The department views the misconduct as a serious offence and is in contravention with the service level agreement signed, therefore we suspend all your scholar transport services.”
The Eastern Cape’s Transport Department spokesperson, Unathi Binqose, said it was not a criminal matter because he was not caught drinking while driving, News24 reported.
“(The) lives of all learners, who were travelling in the bus, were put in danger and such cannot be allowed to happen ever again,” Education MEC Fundile Gade said.
“However, we are grateful to the learners who caught the act on camera, so that we can investigate the matter and also find out if there have been previous incidents.”
Eastern Cape Education Department spokesperson Monwabisi Mbangeni confirmed that the operator has lost its government contract, TheSouthAfrican reported.
“It is very clear the bus was being driven by the pupil. Obviously, she does not have a Code 14 licence.
’’We can’t proceed with a person who is playing with people’s lives. The Eastern Cape Education Department has now cancelled its contract with the operator and alternative transport arrangements for the students are being made,” Mbangeni said.