Vuwani calm, despite threats of more violence

2016-05-09 08:47
School that was set alight during protests in Vuwani, Limpopo. (News24 Correspondent)

School that was set alight during protests in Vuwani, Limpopo. (News24 Correspondent)

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Here's what remains of scorched Vuwani school

2016-05-06 18:39

Minister Angie Motshekga said it was "really shattering" to see the damage caused by arson attacks on schools in Vuwani, Limpopo. See for yourself here.WATCH

Polokwane – The situation in Vuwani was calm on Monday morning, Limpopo police said, despite threats from residents that they would continue to burn schools in the area.

Colonel Ronel Otto said police officers were on the ground, but the area was currently calm.

Twenty-one people were expected to appear in Malamulele Magistrate's Court on Monday morning on charges of public violence, arson and malicious damage to property.

The protests escalated when residents lost a court battle to have the area remain under Makhado, instead of being merged into a new municipality with Malamulele.

“Let them burn. Let them burn. Watch and see what will happen tonight,” one resident shouted on Friday. Hours later another school was torched by protesters, despite increased police visibility.

To reporters it was an unspoken rule to leave the area at sundown. Violence would normally escalate after 17:00 in the vast terrain of the region.

'This is tribal'

To date 24 schools have been vandalised and 20 burnt down. The rage from residents was palpable; some people said they did not speak to journalists for fear of intimidation.

Last week children walked to school in casual wear fearing that their schools would be identified and torched by disgruntled residents.

“We don’t want our school to be burned. Our principal told us not to wear our school uniform and not to talk to journalists,” a 12-year-old told News24.

A Grade 11 pupil said he could hear the anger coming from residents every night last week. He said he was afraid that protesters would eventually start a war with neighbouring communities.

“It’s disappointing. It’s even worse that government doesn’t realise this problem. Tsonga and Venda people do not like each other. This is tribal,” he said.

Yet Limpopo Co-operative Governance MEC, Makoma Makhurupetje, dismissed claims that the violence was a result of tribalism.

She said those fuelling this rumour were opportunistic.

The pupil said his school was among those that had been burnt to rubble during the protest.

“My school was one of the first schools burnt. I have to look for another school now. It’s sad,” he said.

Some Vuwani residents continued to sell vegetables while police barricaded roads and hot spots with razor wire fencing.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  protests  |  education

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