A group of boys and girls in gold shirts and green jerseys stand together, some smoking outside a store on Station Street in Braamfontein while others stand around inside the store.

The learners from Supreme Educational College, a school located opposite Wits main campus on Jorissen Street, wander around, play games and smoke during school hours.

In South Africa it is illegal to supply or sell cigarettes to anyone under 18 years’ old but learners find stores willing to sell them cigarettes.

“I was chased [away from school] because of fees and honestly I come here to smoke and to play pool table ’cause there’s nothing I can do,” said a grade 10 learner.

A Grade 11 learner said his class teacher chased him out because of unpaid fees.

“My class teacher said I must not come until my fees are paid,” said the learner.

He said although he was there because he was chased out of school for not paying fees, some learners come to play games. They jump over the back wall of the school to get to the McGenaldine Trading shop on Station Street.

The owner of the shop said he did not sell cigarettes to learners in uniform but only sold to students and staff from college campuses in the vicinity. He also said most came before and after classes.

When asked for his name he said: “It’s not necessary.”

According to another learner, school starts at 07:45 in the morning and ends at 14:05.

“No one is allowed to go out before school is out,” said the grade 12 learner.

Wits Vuvuzela found about 20 students outside the store at Station Street on Tuesday around 13:00.

When asked for comment on Tuesday the principal of Supreme Educational College, Nkululeloko Ncube, asked Wits Vuvuzela to send him questions via email but had not responded by the time of going to print.