‘The wrong way to mark June 16’
Taverns to bar pupils drinking in their school uniforms
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.