Police send Bekkersdal pupils to school

2013-10-28 11:51

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A group of children set tyres alight in Bekkersdal township, outside Westonaria, this morning.

A Sapa photographer on the scene estimated the children were between six and 13-years-old.

"There were between 30 to 50 of them burning tyres close to the entrance of the township. Police came and put out the fire. They are monitoring the group," he said.

Earlier, police broke up groups of children in school uniform and ordered them to go to school. The group that set fire to the tyres was not wearing uniform.

Violent protests in Bekkersdal over the last few days had affected schooling. The provincial education department announced last week it had organised a special residential camp outside the area for matric pupils who started writing their final exams today.

Yesterday, community leader Thabang Wesi said they did not want to disrupt the children’s exams.

“We are suspending the protests and allowing schooling to continue and for the situation to return to normal in Bekkersdal,” said Wesi.

Today, police spokesman Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said police maintained a strong visible presence in Bekkersdal as well as in the neighbouring Simunye township as the protests had spilled over to that area.

Several police officers, some on horseback, patrolled the streets.

At the entrance to Bekkersdal, the metro police and SA Police Service conducted a roadblock, searching vehicles entering and leaving the township. Burnt tyres and rocks were still lying in the streets.

Bekkersdal has been plagued by violent protests, with residents demanding the removal of the mayor and better service delivery.

Protesters have vandalised government properties and damaged police cars and a disaster management vehicle. Several people had been arrested and charged with public violence.

Wesi said community leaders met members of the tripartite alliance yesterday and agreed to allow investigations launched by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Lechesa Tsenoli to proceed.

The group was expected to meet Gauteng human settlements and local government MEC Ntombi Mekgwe on November 3.

When Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane visited the area yesterday, residents disrupted a church service she attended by throwing stones at the building.

Mokonyane condemned their action and said she would not be intimidated.

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