‘The wrong way to mark June 16’

Tav­erns to bar pupils drink­ing in their school uni­forms

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MASABATA MKWANANZI

E STARTED ar­gu­ing and next thing I knew, my friend stabs me twice with a screw­driver.”

These were the har­row­ing few min­utes *Di­tiro, 17, re­mem­bers as he fell un­con­scious af­ter the stab­bing.

June 16 was cho­sen as the day to recog­nise the role of the youth in the lib­er­a­tion of South Africa from apartheid, but many have turned it into a day to visit tav­erns and drink­ing the day away.

Di­tiro, a Grade 10 pupil, re­called how he “cel­e­brated” the day with his friends last year at a tav­ern and had some drinks.

But ev­ery­thing quickly turned sour when he got into an ar­gu­ment with his friend who later stabbed him.

Ac­cord­ing to Di­tiro, the ar­gu­ment started be­cause he wanted to go home as he be­lieved he had had enough al­co­hol that day.

How­ever, his friend did not want him to go home, telling Di­tiro it was his turn to buy drinks as they had been buying rounds for each other.

“We ar­gued over al­co­hol, my friend ac­cused me of not buying enough and started shout­ing at me. As I tried to leave he stabbed me once in the neck and re­peat­edly in my arm,” Dit­tro said.

He fell and even when he was still down, he was stabbed mul­ti­ple times.

To his hor­ror, Di­tiro re­alised a screw­driver was still hang­ing in his up­per arm as his at­tacker fled.

“I thought I was go­ing to die,” he said.

He was rushed to hos­pi­tal where it was found he had lost a lot of blood. While he was lucky to sur­vive, his right side is to­day paral­ysed.

Di­tiro can’t use his right arm but is hope­ful he will be able to one day as he has phys­io­ther­apy. He still thinks about his or­deal and en­cour­ages the youth not to make the same mis­takes he did and pleads for peo­ple to com­mem­o­rate the day with re­spect, bear­ing in mind what ac­tu­ally hap­pened in 1976.

This year, he plans to have a change of sce­nario as he will at­tend and speak at dif­fer­ent events lead­ing up to June 16.

Faida Molo, who owns a tav­ern in Soweto, said pupils went to tav­erns on June 16 wear­ing school uni­forms whereas the youth of 1976 had fought for a bet­ter life and not so that young peo­ple could get drunk in their school uni­forms.

Af­ter learn­ing what hap­pened to Di­tiro, she has asked com­mu­nity mem­bers to re­spect school uni­forms when cel­e­brat­ing the day and en­cour­aged the youth not to drink, es­pe­cially on a day that changed the his­tory of the coun­try.

Molo has part­nered with other tav­ern own­ers to put a stop to this trend.

“The in­di­vid­u­als will be handed to po­lice of­fi­cers as al­co­hol can­not be sold to those who come to the tav­ern wear­ing school uni­form,” she said.

“We are not say­ing peo­ple must not drink, they can com­mem­o­rate the day but not con­sume al­co­hol in their school uni­form,” Molo said.

Tav­ern own­ers can sell al­co­hol to or­di­nary cit­i­zens but not to school pupils and those with uni­forms, es­pe­cially on this day. “We must com­mem­o­rate the day and not cel­e­brate it in this way,” Molo added.

Themba Ntali, a com­mu­nity leader in Soweto, said he was very happy that they would be part­ner­ing with dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers to com­mem­o­rate June 16 and hoped the mes­sage would be de­liv­ered and peo­ple would re­spect the day.

Ntali said they had part­nered with the po­lice and lo­cal anti-drug or­gan­i­sa­tions to go around tav­erns in town­ships and had is­sued a strong warn­ing to tav­ern own­ers that if they sold al­co­hol to pupils in school uni­form, they would be fined R1 500. They al­sowarned that pupils who bought al­co­hol while wear­ing school uni­forms would be charged with pub­lic drink­ing. * Not his real name

Tav­ern own­ers part­ner with po­lice to halt wor­ry­ing trend

TEMP­TA­TION: Pupils walk past a bar. Joburg tav­ern own­ers want to pre­vent school­child­ren from drink­ing in their uni­forms.

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