No more violent protests - education forum

2015-07-27 21:56
Richard Draai listens as a residents speaks at a meeting between between the Northern Areas Education Forum and residents. (Ahmed Areff, News24)

Richard Draai listens as a residents speaks at a meeting between between the Northern Areas Education Forum and residents. (Ahmed Areff, News24)

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WATCH: Police fire rubber bullets at protesting children in PE

2015-07-27 17:33

News24 journalist on the ground, Ahmed Areff, shot this video of police firing rubber bullets at children on an embankment - who were pelting a nearby police van with rocks in the aftermath of protests in Port Elizabeth. Watch. WATCH

Port Elizabeth - While schools in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth will still be closed on Tuesday, no violent protests will take place, says the Northern Areas Education Forum.

"The principals are meeting the department at 14:00 tomorrow [Tuesday]. They will provide documents and evidence that they submitted to the department [in terms of] of vacancies that they are filling," the forum's secretary Richard Draai told News24. 

He said the forum would also meet with the education MEC later in the day after which the forum would meet with parents and residents on Tuesday night to give feedback on the meetings and to get a mandate from the parents on how to proceed. 

"Schools will still be closed, but I guarantee that tomorrow will be peaceful."

Earlier, while addressing more than 100 parents and residents at the Arcadia Secondary School, Draai said he did not want political parties to use the protest to push their agendas. 

"The DA and the ANC must not play here. This is not about politics, it is about education."

Teenagers and children also barricaded the roads to the school with burning branches and boulders. 

They demanded R5 from each motorist before being allowed to pass. 

News24 encountered six such barricades en route to the forum's meeting with parents at the school. 

People at the meeting complained about the roadblocks, and that roads out of the Northern areas were blocked for most of the day, and as a result, they could not get to work. 

"Will I be able to get to work?" a man stood up and asked. 

Draai said he would be free to travel tomorrow, and called on people to stop barricading roads. 

 "When this happens, people close their shops," he said. 

"We don't want to kill our own economy [in the northern area]. Let us go to the department's offices tomorrow where the meetings are taking place and support [our cause] peacefully."

Other members of the forum reiterated a call for residents to be calm on Tuesday. 

"Children must be kept in their homes tomorrow," a member said. 

Some in the crowd lamented the arrests of two protesters.

"Two people were arrested. We can't allow people who are fighting for our cause to be in jail."

Cleaning up

Members of the United Communities Advancement Initiate told News24 at the meeting that they were trying to clean up all the intersections in the northern areas that were barricaded on Monday. 

"We spoke to people about trying to be peaceful," spokesperson Raymond Mateza said. 

The group said they were trying to organise retired or unemployed teachers to help matriculants in the area before their exams.

These teachers would provide remedial classes to a hall full of children. 

Police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and used water cannons to disperse the protesters on Monday. 

Earlier on Monday a Daily Sun journalist was hit over the head and robbed during the violent protest over vacancies in local schools. 

"They just hit me from behind with something on my head. There were about eight of them and they all looked like they were in their 20s," Luvuyo Mehlwana told News24. 

"It was on Standford Road [in Helenvale], at around 10:00am. They searched me and took everything."

He said his laptop, cellphone, camera and wallet were stolen. 

"A cameraman from eTV found my camera later. But all the pictures were gone."

He said the incident was traumatic, and he was taking time to rest. 

"We just came from the doctor now, and he gave me pain medication."

Mehlwana's head injury did not require any stitches. 

As this News24 reporter was driving down the same stretch of road later on Monday, a group of six children jumped into the road and pelted his car with rocks before running away. 

By 16:30, police were making their way up Standford road to try to clean up burning branches and rocks that blocked the roadway. 

Dispersing the crowd

At one point a group of children from homes overlooking the road pelted a police van with rocks. The officers got out and fired rubber bullets to disperse them. 

Residents told News24 that they were protesting because there was a shortage of teachers in the schools in the northern side of Port Elizabeth

"Education is a human right. We want to ask them why they want to do this in the coloured areas," Buston Bosch, 51, told News24. 

"I went to the so-called white areas and they don't have problems like this.

"It is only when things like this happen, then you see the people [officials] come to the area."

He said if any other party besides the ANC won the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in next year's local government elections, then things could change for residents. 

Leroy Macgas, 22, said that when police fired tear gas, his 1-year-old daughter was having chest pains. 

"She is ok now.  But the small children and the old people are suffering with the tear gas."

Martin Hiles, 38, said he wanted the local schools to improve. 

"I don't want my child to grow up like how I grew up," he said. 

"There are 60 kids in one class, and there are no teachers. Kids don't go to school and then they become gangsters. 

"I don't want my children to grow up and become gangsters. I want them to go to school and then go to university."

Wayne van Wyk, 50, who said he was a chief with the Griqua Khoi clan, showed News24 one of his wounds from a rubber bullet. 

He said he was negotiating with residents and the police earlier. 

"We told the police to stop shooting, which they did at first. But as we were coming back, the police fired rubber bullets."

He said teachers did not want to come to schools in the northern areas because they were not getting paid. 

He then pointed out where a rubber bullet had gone through a window in a nearby home.  

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  education  |  protests

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