LEARNING to be on time is very important.

But dozens of pupils at schools in Port Elizabeth’s Northern Areas don’t seem to care.

Every day, they’re seen standing near Nelson Mandela University’s Missionvale campus waiting for cheap taxis, which they say are a risk but which they say saves money.

A grade 11 pupil (16) from Hillside High School said: “We’ve been doing this since primary school. The taxis load up 40 to 50 passengers. Everybody knows each seat takes six people.”

The pupil said a normal taxi costs R10, but he pays R5 for an overloaded one.

Another pupil (14) said: “Some of our parents are aware of this situation but others aren’t. The money I save helps me buy airtime and lunch.”

Commuter Madoda Xhali said he often sees the pupils smoking cigarettes.

Malibongwe Mtima, a spokesman for the Eastern Cape Education Department, said: “We call on parents to work with the department to make sure pupils are at school on time.”

Nelson Mandela Bay spokesman Kupido Baron said the traffic department and Metro cops conduct operations to deal with overloading.

  • Meanwhile, a 41-year-old taxi driver has been arrested in the Free State for overloading a 15-seater Toyota Quantum with 22 pupils.

The taxi was confiscated by traffic officers in Bloemfontein on Wednesday. It was on its way to Dr Bethuel Setai Primary School.

Saki Mohono, a spokesman for the provincial transport department, said: “The taximen transport pupils to school and submit invoices to the department at the end of the month.

“We don’t allow overloading.”