Cross-border students flock to High Commission for permits

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…as South African lowers lockdown to level 3, re-opening schools for grade 7 and 12.

Matiisetso Mosala

Tens of Basotho students studying in South Africa accompanied by parents and guardians gathered at the South African High Commission for permits to cross Lesotho-South African borders ahead of June 1 re-opening of South African schools since COVID-19 lockdown.

South Africa reduced its lockdown to level three, allowing for more economic activities to take place and re-opening of schools for both primary schools leaving learners and matriculants.

The KDNews witnesses scores as pupils, parents and guardians flooded the High Commissioner’s grounds to apply for permits to travel into South Africa as schools re-open on Monday June 1.

While some have successfully completed the process, some parents said there are a lot of differences in the documents requested causing some delays and confusion.

According to information gathered by the KDNews students have to produce a Form A form from schools they attend; filled, stamped and signed by their school principal and a form B form their Parents or guardians who would be accompanying their children.

Also, School-bus operators ferrying students who commute daily into South Africa also had to request form B form from one of the schools they transport students to, to be able to cross the Lesotho-South African border.

‘Manthabiseng Seboka, in an interview said the information requested in the documents for applying for the said permit is unclear.

She adds that some people have been turned away to get more documents.

“…but some of the documents that we brought were not taken, apparently they are not necessary. At this point we are just praying to get this process over and done with so that our children can go back to school,” said an exhausted Seboka.

She expressed concern about the safety of both her children who attend school in South Africa where the Covid-19 has been contracted by thousands of people.

Seboka also notes amid the COVID-19 pandemic it is important that her children complete their studies.

A grade 12 leaner, Mpho Matlali from Ha-Matala admitted that she is very frightened about going back to school at Wepener High School considering the number of positive cases South Africa has recorded to date.

“If I was not completing my high school, I would have withdrawn to repeat next year when I believe the situation will have been under control,” said Matlali.

Limpho Lekhotsa, also in grade 12, said she was fortunate to have been given an option whether or not to return to school and not forced by her parents.

Lekhotsa expressed how terrified she is, but said she believes necessary precautions have been taken by schools, especially for students who stay in hostels.

Additionally, Lekhotsa said it was important that they should obey social distancing and other precautions even though they have not seen their friends in a while, wear masks at all time and keep their hands clean and use hand sanitizers frequently to protect themselves against catching the virus.

Mpho Thamae from the South African High Commission said the commission had its hands full trying to attend to all request as the pupils who do not commute have to travel as soon as possible.

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