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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Matrics, don’t go to ‘dangerous’ pens down parties or rip up your uniform

The KZN department of education has urged pupils to donate their school uniforms instead of ripping them.

As matric pupils complete their final exams, authorities have intensified their campaign against matric rage and pens down parties.

The exams, which started on 30 October, will officially conclude next week Wednesday, 6 December.

The campaigns were introduced following the Enyobeni Tavern tragedy in June 2022, which claimed 21 young lives.

The children visited the tavern as part of their pens down celebrations after their mid-year exams.

ALSO READ: IFP calls on KZN government to ban matric ‘pens down’ celebrations

While the initial post-mortem report said the children died from chemical poisoning, the final report suggested suffocation from overcrowding.

The tavern owners, Vuyokazi and her husband Siyakhangela Ndevu, have since been charged with contravening the Liquor Act. They have denied the charges.

The case is ongoing.

Anti-pens down campaign

There is a growing concern in the Eastern Cape of pens down parties, with posters of events already circulating on social media.

The Eastern Cape Liquor Board (ECLB) has condemned these, urging communities to be vigilant and prevent such parties.

ALSO READ: Stop with ‘pens down parties’, Gauteng education urges learners

“We wish to send a stern warning to our pupils to never organise the pens down parties so as to avoid eventualities similar to the Enyobeni Tavern incident,” said the board’s CEO, Dr Makala, on Wednesday.

“Our strong warning also goes to all liquor traders to refrain from hosting these pens down parties in their liquor outlets. Immediate action will be taken against a liquor trader found to have permitted young people to arrange such parties in their outlets.

“Our liquor inspectors, working with SAPS, will be closely monitoring liquor outlets that might be used for these parties.

“In some instances, taxis transport young people to public places such as beaches and parks, and in this regard, we wish to urge our taxi owners and drivers to play a parental role in ensuring that they do not allow young people to carry and indulge in alcohol while in transit in their taxis.

ALSO READ: Matric exams: ‘Imposter’ found writing exam in KZN, absenteeism in Gauteng

“Following a myriad of regrettable incidents that have occurred due to the pens down parties, ECLB is taking every necessary precaution to ensure that these parties are prevented from being organised.”

School uniforms

While the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education was pleased with the smooth running of the 2023 NSC exams, it has called on pupils to watch their behaviour during the festive season.

“As we congratulate all our pupils for reaching this milestone, we want to urge them to continue to conduct themselves appropriately beyond this point,” said Education MEC Mbali Frazer.

“We strongly discourage the attendance of pens down celebrations and matric rage parties that are extremely dangerous.”

ALSO READ: Three arrested for writing matric exams for others

The department also condemned the practice of pupils ripping off their school uniforms as a sign of excitement and achievement upon finishing their exams.

“We advise all pupils to rather leave the uniform at their respective schools so that their educators can help those in need of the uniform the following year,” said Frazer.

“The department would like to thank all personnel who were involved in ensuring not only that the pupils were prepared for the exams, but for also ensuring that the exams were free from leaks and irregularities.”

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