Vuwani residents likely to go back to court

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The Vuwani demarcation case could soon be back in court for appeal but there were doubts on whether this would bring about any calm and stability to the troubled area. 

City Press was reliably told by one of the Venda chiefs that a decision was taken by traditional leaders to take the matter back to court. 

Vuwani residents lost a high court bid last month to have their area reinstated under the Makhado Municipality. They had applied to have the Municipal Demarcation Board’s decision to incorporate their area into a new municipality set aside. 

Traditional leaders were planning to make an announcement on their decision to go back to court soon. 

Their decision came after a marathon of meetings with an inter-ministerial team led by State Security Minister David Mahlobo in government attempts to restore calm in Vuwani. Mahlobo and the team have been working tirelessly in the area since last week. 

Their aim was to have children returning to school by next week but tension was still simmering in the area. 

The Vhavenda king, Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, last week declared support for his communities, and said they never asked for a new municipality. 

Residents of nearby Malamulele had for years asked for their area to be detached from Thulamela municipality. After years of protests, their wish was granted, although the Municipal Demarcation Board had initially said a municipality for Malamulele would not be viable. 

Trouble started in Vuwani when residents learnt that their area would be incorporated into the new municipality with Malamulele. 

The area was plunged into chaos, and at least 24 schools were torched since the court outcome more than two weeks ago. Vuwani has been under a total lockdown with no schooling or business activities taking place since then. 

Ramabulana said last week he believed Vuwani’s grievances called for a political solution. He wanted to ask President Jacob Zuma to reverse the Municipal Demarcation Board’s decision. 

Limpopo ANC deputy secretary and local government MEC Makoma Makhurupetje said yesterday that Ramabulana had already met Zuma and that the king was asked by the ANC top six to work on stabilising the situation first. 

An official, who was close to the king, also confirmed the meeting with the president. 

He added that there would be an announcement on the way forward. It was believed to be an announcement on the decision to go back to court. 

Immediate reactions from several community leaders who spoke to City Press this morning was not any different. 

“We won’t be part of that. If the chiefs go that route we remain resolute that lockdown will remain until our demands are heard,” one community leader said. 
Vyeboom Civic Association spokesperson Nsovo Sambo doubted whether communities would move with traditional leaders on this one. 

“We will obviously discuss it with communities but our initial position was we’ve made our demands clear and do not see why we should go back to court. This matter is more political than judicial and going to court will be time wasting,” Nsovo said. 

“We condemn violence and the torching of schools because our struggle was hijacked by opportunists and criminals but the lockdown is our idea and we’re continuing with it. Traditional leaders are on their own if they go to court; as for us we just need a political solution and nothing else.” 

Meanwhile, police maintained strong presence in the area with personnel from the ree State, Northern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga and Gauteng brought in to help maintain order. 

They were patrolling the streets but one of their regular jobs was to clear the roads that were barricaded every night, and which rendered the villages inaccessible.

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