It is no secret that the overfilling of taxis and bakkies has resulted in thousands of young, innocent children losing their lives on their way to school.  And, while there are many contributing factors to this (such as lack of road infrastructure and socio-economic circumstances, to name a few), Government aims to put a stop to the unnecessary deaths of pupils.

According to LAW FOR ALL legal expert Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, changes to the National Road Traffic Regulations Act, which officially come into effect on 11 May 2017, forbids anyone to transport schoolchildren in the goods section of a vehicle for remuneration. This law doesn’t apply to drivers who have the necessary permit in terms of the National Land Transport Act to carry adults at the back of their bakkies for a fee. “Remember, it’s always been illegal to transport people on the back of a bakkie for any form of payment, but many people only found this out when the amendments made new headlines”.

What exactly does a goods compartment refer to? 

 Well, it’s any section of a vehicle (car, bakkie, hatchback or minibus) that is not designed to accommodate the transportation of people; for example, the boot of a car or the back of a bakkie.  The units that are created for passengers are usually equipped with or surrounded by a safety device, like a seatbelt and airbag.

 What about bakkie-taxis taking my child to school?

The so-called “bakkie-taxis”, which are often the only form of public transport for learners in informal areas of South Africa, will have to stop carrying schoolchildren, and drivers who are pulled over will be arrested or fined.  Consequently, parents only have a few more days to make different arrangements for their children.  However, because many people in South Africa don’t have access to the necessary resources to assist them with finding alternatives, many children might miss school.

What alternative solutions exist?

Much like with road safety in general, the State needs to commit to providing for those who need it the most in our country, from reliable infrastructure to adequate service delivery. KwaZulu-Natal has taken a step in the right direction here, with talks of subsidised learner transport in the province.  “In an effort to provide access to education and eradicate illiteracy, MEC for Education Mthandeni Dlungwana strives to ensure that there is the provision of subsidised dedicated learner transport in the province KwaZulu-Natal,” states Kwazi Mthethwa, provincial education department spokesperson.

Another option puts the ball back in the parents’ court and calls for them to come together and a carpool of sorts since, technically, children can be transported at the back of the bakkie if they are not paying for it (i.e. the parents aren’t doing it for a reward).  This is by no means ideal since it is based on the assumption that a community has access to vehicles and it doesn’t actually curb the dangers of this kind of transport.

But, these amendments don’t actually tackle the dangers of transporting people at the back of a bakkie, because it’s still allowed in some instances, thanks to permits and loopholes.   What’s more, there is a large dose of skepticism surrounding the issuing of permits as many believe that corruption might come into play and it just becomes a money-making scheme.

Legal technicalities and regulations aside, it’s important not to lose sight of what’s at stake here: children’s lives and education.   South Africa needs to come to together and work thoroughly to protect learners and ensure that they have access to schools.


  • Contact the school and find out if it offers transport for learners.  If your child is going to miss school due to transportation problems, it’s best to inform the school.
  • Speak to other parents and see if they have some kind of carpool system in place and if your child can be included.
  • Investigate all forms of public transport options.  It might not always be convenient, but it’s definitely a safer alternative.

Contact your local government and ask about possible subsidised transport options.  You could rally other parents and start a petition that calls for safe and affordable transportation for schoolchildren.