Schools in Zebediela reopen after SAHRC, Public Protector step in

2019-07-15 20:24
(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Almost 3 000 pupils, who were forced out of class for more than three months by residents demanding a tarred road in Zebediela, Limpopo, have now all returned to school.

This follows an intervention by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the Office of the Public Protector, which held a meeting with parents at the weekend.

On Monday, pupils from three of the seven schools that remained shut when the third term began last week attended classes unhindered.

READ: Community vows to keep schools closed until roads are tarred

Community leader Duduzile Chauke said the move followed an understanding with the SAHRC and the Public Protector that the demand for a tarred road would be addressed.

"We are thankful that the human rights commission and the Public Protector intervened. They promised us that they will provide us with a date when the tarred road will be built in the area."

Though Chauke felt the pupils were forced out of class for too long, she believed the government should take the blame.

"Yes, it was a waste of time for the pupils, but the government should take the blame for giving us empty promises. They must take responsibility for coming to us and not returning to resolve the matter," she said.

Education MEC Polly Boshielo, who visited the area on Monday, said the SAHRC and the Public Protector had played a major role in breaking the impasse.

ALSO READ: Zebediela residents warned pupils should return to school or face prosecution

"The human rights commission was able to sit with the families of those [community] members who were arrested and convinced them that while this other [legal] process is going on, they must allow the children to go to school."

Boshielo said catch-up programmes have been arranged for the pupils.

The protest dates back to 2017 when residents approached the local municipality to demand a tarred road.

They then forced the pupils out of class in March this year in an effort for their demands to be realised. 

Several pupils expressed their joy at returning to class.

One pupil, Bridgette Baloi, said: "It was definitely not good to stay out of school for such a long time. Our peers elsewhere were progressing while we were just lounging at home. To be truthful, it was difficult to study on your own at home."

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Read more on:    public protector  |  sahrc  |  polokwane  |  protests  |  education

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