Children miss school while Malamulele waits for officials

2015-01-20 12:15

While residents in Malamulele, Limpopo, are waiting for government officials to visit, pupils are missing out on the all-important first weeks of a new school year.

Protest organisers said today that officials from the department had promised to visit the area tomorrow.

“I received an email this morning from the department that officials will be here tomorrow. The email did not state who are the people [who would be] coming,” said Isaac Nukeri.

“We hope a solution to the problems here will be reached tomorrow.”

The South African Human Rights Commission has said that residents may have the right to protest, but pupils have the right to attend school.

“Inherent in the right to protest is respect for the rights of other individuals. Children have rights to education conferred to them by the same Constitution that confers the right to protest to every individual.”

The organisation said the forceful removal of children from school is a violation of a right and an offence punishable by law.

At least 100 schools were reportedly affected by the protest by residents in Malamulele who were demanding their own municipality.

Residents wanted to be separated from the Thulamela municipality, based about 50km from the villages on the edge of the Kruger National Park.

Malamulele came to a standstill when protesters forced shops in the local mall to close two days before inland schools were due to open for the new academic year.

“Last year, the commission launched an investigation into the alleged lack of adequate service delivery, some of which, if correct, borders on violation of socioeconomic rights,” the commission said.

It called on authorities concerned, such as the cooperative governance department, to do everything possible to end the impasse in Malamulele.

Nukeri said the commission would not help the residents or give them their own municipality.

“The chairperson of the human rights commission in Limpopo called me to complain about the shutting down of schools. Will the commission help us and give us a municipality? I don’t think so ... they should come here and see the situation we are faced with,” he said.

The commission in Limpopo told Nukeri they would arrange a visit to Malamulele soon, he said.

Nukeri said the situation in the area was tense, and only health workers were allowed in and out of the area.

Roads in the area were monitored to make sure no business took place.

“All shops are closed ... we do not even have bread. We are prepared to continue like this until our demands are met.”

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