‘Walking Bus’ saluted for their work

Dan Plato, MEC for Community Safety, speaks to Walking Bus volunteers.

About 200 Walking Bus volunteers, from Beacon Valley, Tafelsig and Lentegeur and Khayelitsha were treated to a thank you ceremony, where they received certificates of appreciation and a panic alarm button.

As part of this initiative, grandparents, parents and unemployed adults have been walking pupils to and from school since 2011.

The initiative sees them being the drivers of the “bus” who are supported by the neighbourhood watch (NHW), community policing forum (CPF), the relevant school, ward councillor and Department of Community Safety to help safeguard pupils while they’re making their way to and from school.

They are also supported by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), the City of Cape Town Traffic, Law Enforcement, Metro police and the South African Police Service (SAPS).

At the breakfast function, held at The Farm recreation hall in Montrose Park on Thursday February 16, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said they would be channelling funds via local neighbourhood watches, which would be accumulated for Walking Bus volunteers.

He confirmed that Premier Helen Zille had acknowledged their efforts and that the Walking Bus project was here to stay.

The programme aims to create a safe and supervised route for pupils, with the commitment and involvement of the community playing a central part to help create safer environments.

He said the initiative was strategic in preventing pupils from joining gangs and being enticed to use drugs.

“We want our children to go to college and to university. We don’t want our children to be gangsters and druggies,” he said.

Mr Plato encouraged volunteers to continue doing good work.

Project co-ordinator Jemayne Andrews said the walking bus volunteers would continue managing themselves. “I want the Walking Bus (volunteers) to manage themselves. So far they have been doing a damn good job by themselves,” she said.

Ms Andrews said it would take time before the logistics around the transfer of funds was sorted out and similarly, for the volunteers to decide how they would like to be remunerated.

In Lentegeur, pupils from Lentegeur High, Meadowridge Primary, Cornflower Primary, Lantana Primary and Hyacinth Primary schools, have been prioritised to ensure safe passage.

In Eastridge and Tafelsig, pupils from Dural Arqam Islamic High, Huguenot Primary, Mitchell Heights Primary, Tafelsig Primary, Cascade Primary, Searidge Park Primary Tafelsig High and Yellowwood Primary schools are escorted daily.

Through the Walking Bus initiative, the parents, pupils and teachers of Imperial, Beaconview, Ieglaasi Nieyah, Alpine and AZ Berman primary schools in Beacon Valley are also making safety their priority.

Glenda Arendse, chairperson of the Lentegeur Walking Bus project and Lentegeur East Neighbourhood Watch, said community members participated in the programme because they cared and wanted to see their children succeed.

She said it was never about the money but it would go a long way to help volunteers who return home from looking after the community and have to worry what to put on the table for their families.