Stranded pupils: Parents chip in

Lovemore Meya Herald Correspondent
Parents of pupils who are reportedly stranded in South Africa after their school, Direct Contact School in Harare engaged a bogus tour company, yesterday made contributions amounting to more than R20 000, it has emerged.

The money raised was channelled to food, accommodation and pocket money, which some of them had provided, to bail out their counterparts from the chaotic trip. This was after the parents met the school authorities yesterday to map the way forward and to their surprise, it offered nothing, forcing them to make contributions.

“We contributed over R20 000 for accommodation, extras and pocket money, which they used and the problem is now solved,” said one of the parents.

“We were left with no option after the school only provided some financial aid to their staff and tour operator, leaving our children stranded. We are happy that our children have started their activities today and will be back on Friday. However, it is shocking that the school denied any connections with the tour company, yet we do not know the operator and it is their trip, not a students’ trip as they tried to insinuate.”

Another parent who lives abroad denounced the school authorities for their gross misconduct.

“I am a parent with a child who is part of the trip and it has been traumatic for me. See how they shifted the blame from the school to parents and travel agent. Every child there had an affidavit, but the school did not provide one which was supposed to cover all students on the trip, hence children were asked for birth certificates. In the case of school tours, the parental consent affidavit may be replaced with an affidavit from the school principal confirming that all consent letters are held by the school.

“Upon producing this affidavit, immigration officers at ports of entry and South African missions abroad would not require any additional documents from individual scholars such as parental consent,” fumed the parent.

The parent said the students were treated as travelling independently.

“Unfortunately, some students did not have birth certificates with them, nor did they have anyone home to take a pictures of the copies (birth) and send it. This was how they ended up having two groups travelling. We were the ones who were running around to sort this out and to even have the $200 fee waived off.

When the first group arrived in Cape Town, they were stranded at the airport until they contributed some money to get a taxi to Cape Royale, which was the hotel mentioned by the tour guide. Upon arrival, they were told that no bookings had been made by their school. Contacted for comment, the school’s administration manager, Mr Bright Mushori, said they only paid for their staff.

“We only deposited into our staff’s accounts but for children, they settled everything using their own resources,” he said.

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