Vuwani kids have to sneak to school WATCH

2016-05-06 17:47
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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Vuwani – Some children in Vuwani have stopped wearing their uniforms to prevent their schools from being burnt down.

"We were told that we can't wear our uniform. We don't want our school to burn," a 12-year-old girl told News24 while walking to school, wearing civvies on Friday morning.

Police had brought in Nyala armoured personnel carriers and were conducting patrols. Burnt tyres lay in the streets, but residents went about their regular business.

Thousands of children in villages in the Vuwani area were unable to go to class after 23 schools were set alight. Nineteen of them were burnt to the ground over the past few days.

The violence started after the Limpopo High Court last Friday dismissed the bid by residents to not be included in a new municipality. They wanted to stay in the Makhado municipality.

Government officials arrived in Vuwani on Thursday in a bid to quell the violence. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was in talks with Venda King Toni Ramabulane at his royal palace outside Thohoyandou on Friday morning. 

State Security Minister David Mahlobo, part of a ministerial team President Jacob Zuma had appointed to bring calm to the area, said additional Hawks officers would arrive on Friday. 

"You have to bring them so that you are able to surround this area and stabilise as quickly as possible," he said on Thursday.

Hawks unit sent in

Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu said an additional crime intelligence unit was scheduled to arrive. She explained the decision to send in the Hawks, which specialised in investigating organised crime.

"Never in the history of the country have we seen 19 schools burnt to ash in a short time, unless this is organised."

She acknowledged criticism that they had taken time to send police reinforcements to the area. Police would be sent to protect schools that had not been burnt.

Mahlobo said they would assess the damage to schools, which he estimated would run into millions of rands. Plans would be made for children to continue their schooling, and talks with traditional and community leaders were underway.

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

"You can go to these areas you will find Venda-speaking and Shangaan-speaking people in the same area. Whoever said that is opportunistic," she said. 

Read more on:    maggie sotyu  |  angie motshekga  |  polokwane  |  protests  |  education

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