Protesters desperate about PE's poor state of education - DA

2015-07-27 19:30
(Ahmed Areff, News24)

(Ahmed Areff, News24)

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WATCH: Police fire rubber bullets at protesting children in PE

2015-07-27 17:33

News24 journalist on the ground, Ahmed Areff, shot this video of police firing rubber bullets at children on an embankment - who were pelting a nearby police van with rocks in the aftermath of protests in Port Elizabeth. Watch. WATCH

Port Elizabeth - Police reacted with violent force against a community expressing its desperation about the state of education in the north of Port Elizabeth, the DA said on Monday.

While the DA condemned the violence by both the police and criminal elements during Monday's protests, For parents to obstruct their children's education was a last act of desperation, provincial leader Athol Trollip said in a statement.

"The fact is that schools in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth have been notoriously neglected, and parents cannot tolerate this affront to their children any longer."

Earlier on Monday, police cautioned the public to avoid parts of the Northern Areas, after protests over the teacher allocation at schools in the area turned violent.

'The situation is under control'

Although police said the situation had calmed down, they were keeping a watchful eye should the situation flare up again.

Just after 18:00, police and members of the community were locked in discussions to try and reach a solution.

Police said Stanford Road, Gail Road, 3rd Avenue and also roads between Hartebees and Pienaar streets should be considered no-go areas due to complaints of stone throwing reported there.

"The situation is under control and the SAPS will continue to monitor and maintain high visibility in the area, including air support to all the affected areas. No arrests have been made as yet," provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Marinda Mills said.

"It is alleged that the disruptive action is due to unresolved matters between the community and the Department of Education."

Mills said SAPS members had been deployed since 05:00 on Monday to monitor disruptive actions and protests in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth, specifically in the station areas of Gelvandale and Bethelsdorp.

@A warning has been issued to protesters not to endanger the lives of people and to cease their violent actions of throwing stones at police vehicles and other road users."

This comes after members of the community started blocking and barricading roads with various items, including burning tyres, mattresses and rubbish.

The protesters also started throwing stones which damaged police vehicles and those of other road users, the statement said.

Public Order Police, Tactical Response Teams and local police members had been deployed to bring the situation under control and had to use a water cannon, fire stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.

Journalist injured

Meanwhile, a Daily Sun journalist was hit over the head and robbed during the violent protest. 

"They just hit me from behind with something on my head. There were about eight of them and they all looked like they were in their 20s," Luvuyo Mehlwana told News24. 

"It was on Stanford Road [in Helenvale], at around 10:00. They searched me and took everything."

He said his laptop, cellphone, camera and wallet were stolen. 

"A cameraman from eTV found my camera later. But all the pictures were gone."

As a News24 reporter was driving down the same stretch of road later on Monday, a group of six children jumped into the road and pelted his car with rocks before running away. 

School safety was 'utterly ignored'

By 16:30, police were making their way up Stanford Road to try and clean up burning branches and rocks that blocked the road. 

Trollip said the schools in the area were dangerous places, where gangsters and criminals preyed on children because school safety was "utterly ignored".

"If the NMB metro police was fully functional, schools in the northern areas could be much safer places. Where the DA governs in the City of Cape Town, dedicated metro police officers are deployed to less-safe schools to protect children in harm’s way."

The same could be true in Port Elizabeth if the metro got its act together and made the metro police a reality.

He said under-development in the northern areas was a direct result of the metro’s budgets for the area being low, with the DA rejecting the notion Port Elizabeth's northern areas deserved just 5.9% of the entire metro budget.

"While school learners are unsafe they are also being under educated – teacher numbers at Port Elizabeth northern areas schools are disastrously low and the province of the Eastern Cape has broken its promises to fill vacancies."

The DA called on the Eastern Cape education department to bring "time-bound commitments" to the area on Tuesday, and to stick to its promises.

Read more on:    da  |  port elizabeth  |  education  |  protests

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