‘ANC men adding to Mpumalanga school woes’

2017-04-02 07:15
Kwanang Primary School in Madras was set alight on Tuesday night. Firefighters doused the flames, but not before an office and two classrooms had burnt down. Picture: Mpumalanga SAPS

Kwanang Primary School in Madras was set alight on Tuesday night. Firefighters doused the flames, but not before an office and two classrooms had burnt down. Picture: Mpumalanga SAPS

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

ANC members, who volunteered to protect pupils following the torching of four schools in the volatile Bushbuckridge area in Mpumalanga, have allegedly turned out to be the ones unleashing a reign of terror by assaulting people with pickaxe handles.

The volunteers – some of whom are alleged to be Umkhonto weSizwe veterans – were patrolling the streets of Marite township in a bid to help police quell violence.

This after some community members burnt down schools, demanding that the government build them tarred roads.

Schools have been shut down for about two months now, since the Marite community went on a rampage in February, demanding that two dirt roads – the 14km stretch from Marite to Hoxane, and the 10km stretch from Jim Brown to Letsatsi – be tarred.

According to Mpumalanga police, Bakutsoe High School was set alight on March 15, and Lamulelani High on March 25.

Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, spokesperson for the Mpumalanga police, said police in Calcutta received a call at midnight on Tuesday, informing them that Kwanang Primary School in Madras was on fire.

Police summoned firefighters, who managed to extinguish the fire, but only after an administration office and two classrooms had been gutted.

“While the team was busy at that scene, they received another report that Ridzani High School was engulfed in flames. They found the staff room on fire,” Hlathi added.

He said preliminary investigations revealed that a group of 15 people was seen going to Ridzani before the fire started.

Sasekani Manzini, Mpumalanga’s MEC for public works, and Education MEC Reginah Mhaule failed to calm the situation.

Premier David Mabuza flew to Marite by helicopter on Tuesday morning in a bid to negotiate with communities, but also failed, leaving the armed ANC volunteers to step in, vowing to bring the situation under control.

Protection

Some members of the community told City Press that the volunteers and the veterans allegedly began patrolling the villages and assaulting people.

Three men – Tumelo Mokoena, 26, Joe Nkomo and Fortune Brown, 35, – were taken to Matikwane Hospital after the volunteers allegedly bludgeoned them with pickaxe handles.

Mokoena and Brown told City Press that when they went to lay charges at the local police station, they were allegedly told that Mabuza had issued instructions that complaints from Marite be rejected.

Mabuza and the police have denied these claims.

Mabuza’s spokesperson, Zibonele Mncwango, said Mabuza went to Marite with Mpumalanga police commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma to ask the community to let their children go to school.

“They said they were scared of the protesters. He only assured them that police would be there to protect the children,” said Mncwango.

Mandla Ndlovu, Mpumalanga’s provincial ANC secretary, confirmed that ANC branches took a decision to protect the children against “the protesters”, saying the community could not turn around and complain about being victimised.

“How about the schools that have been gutted? It is not proper that they destroy one service because they want another one,” Ndlovu argued.

Police have not yet arrested anyone in connection with the torching of the schools.

They have only arrested five men – Tshepo Maile, 28, Mbuso Mashaba, 23, Kenneth Monareng, 31, Nicholas Nonyane, 28, and Sifiso Mona, 30, – on charges of theft, following the looting of shops owned by foreigners in the area.

A protester, who declined to be identified, told City Press that the community was unhappy that the building of a tarred road would not commence this month.

“Government says it will begin with the design and plan this year, which means we will get the road in 2018. When it rains, cars cannot move and teachers have to leave their cars 700 metres or so from the schools just because the roads are impassable,” he said.

“The premier used a helicopter when he came here. He should have driven to see for himself how bad our roads are.”

Mpumalanga education spokesperson Jasper Zwane said a few pupils had gone back to school, but could not say how much of the teaching has been disrupted.

Read more on:    anc  |  education  |  protests

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
There's an app for that: how apps have changed us

"There's an app for that" is more than just Apple's marketing mantra. Mobile apps have emerged over the last 10 years or so for practically every need in a person's day and changed our lives.

/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.