A 15-seater minibus crammed with 38 pupils was pulled over in Port Elizabeth yesterday after the driver sped past two patrolling traffic officers.
And a missed test was all that most pupils were concerned about when three other taxis arrived to ferry them to Khumbulani High.
The minibus not only had the 38 pupils inside but also a driver and conductor.
Patrolling along the M4 towards Summerstrand, the traffic officers, Joseph Ngcanga and Lubabalo Manentsa, spotted the white Toyota Quantum when it overtook their vehicle at about 8.30am.
“As they passed us I saw at least six people sitting in front, while others were standing in the vehicle. So I told my partner [Manentsa] we have to do something about that vehicle,” Ngcanga said.
When they pulled the minibus over, Ngcanga said: “I was amazed to find these children crammed into this vehicle like sardines.”
He said pupils had told them they had paid R10 each for the trip.
The driver, whom police declined to name until he appears in court, stood by patiently while Ncganga explained to the minibus owner, Victor Sodladla, that his road permit might be confiscated.
“Sodladla would need to appear before the licensing board and make submissions as to why his road permit should not be confiscated,” Ncganga said.
Sodladla said this was the first time one of his minibuses had been involved in an incident like this.
“The biggest problem is if I lose my road permit because I was not on the road . . . I did not break the law. I cannot operate my taxi without that permit.”
Sodladla said the driver knew the rules of the road but he was unsure if he would take any action against him.
The driver was apprehended and taken to the Sidwell Traffic Department.
Ngcanga said in normal circumstances taxis with three people over the recommended limit were fined R300 a person over that limit.
However, he said that due to the number of children involved this time, a case had been opened with the police.
Khumbulani High School principal Ludwe Dingiswayo said he had previously spoken to pupils about getting into taxis that were overloaded as it put their lives at risk.
Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg confirmed that a case of overloading had been opened. She said the driver was in custody and would appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Monday.