Students given drivers’ licence boost

Nathaniel Petersen, 19, from Lentegeur, Riyana September, 19, from Eastridge, and Cameron Poggenpoel, 18, one step closer to being employed on completion of their drivers’ tests. They participated in a Mitchell’s Plain wide free learners’ and driver’s licence learning programme.

Mitchell’s Plain drivers who got their licences after completing a free community programme are one step closer to being employed.

The programme took them from the start, learning the rules of the road, to passing their K53 practical test at the City of Cape Town’s traffic department.

In the last two months more than 80 former Mitchell’s Plain high school pupils have passed their drivers’ licence tests.

Riyana September, 19, from Eastridge, is hoping to be a law enforcement officer.

She matriculated last year from Oval North Secondary School, where she and fellow classmates attended free learners’ licence classes. These classes were also offered at Princeton, Portland and Lentegeur high schools.

Nathaniel Petersen, 19, from Lentegeur, is the first in his family to have a drivers’ licence and was recently employed by Bazil’s Traffic School (BTS) Driving School, based on Highlands Drive, in Lentegeur, who offered the free classes and driver’s licence programme for matriculants.

“It was a surprise to them,” he said.

Nathaniel is one of six children, aged between 24 and 9.

He is also the first from the learners’ and drivers’ licence programme to be employed.

Cameron Poggenpoel, 18, from Eastridge, can now drive his dad’s car to the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Bellville campus where he is studying electrical engineering.

Bazil van der Merwe, driving school founder and owner has been offering free learners’ licence classes to Mitchell’s Plain residents for the last five years.

These last year’s matriculants attended free learners’ licences classes and passed last year and then in July they completed free drivers’ licence classes with the driving school.

“We are hoping to roll it out to other areas but we need the money to cover the costs of qualified instructors, vehicles, petrol and practice venues,” he said.

In July the first eight learners’ licence holders were taught to drive “from scratch” – how to inspect the car, switch it on, park and to go on the road.

Mr Van der Merwe said having grown up poor, he got his driver’s licence and was able to buy his first house at age 23, when he was a sales representative.

“Being able to drive is an essential life skill which you can use in your personal and professional life,” he said.

Each of them received a minimum of 20 drivers’ lessons valued at R4000.

“We must help these children. They showed their commitment and passed their learners’ licence tests, which proved they took up the opportunity,” he said.

“We want people to know how to use a car safely and be better equipped to improve their livelihoods,“ said Mr Van der Merwe.

They are hard at work to prepare their documents and request funding from the government, to come up with solutions to support their free drivers’ licence classes and offer Code 10, truck driving lessons.

Avron Plaatjies, councillor for Ward 76, and Ricardo Mackenzie, Mobility for MEC, last year helped raise funds to support Mr Van Der Merwe (“Fund-raiser for learner’s licence pilot project”, Plainsman, July 20, 2022).

Mr Plaatjies said it was about making people employable.

“It is about giving them the opportunity, a life skill instead of sitting at home and perhaps joining a gang,” he said.