Vuwani protesters set alight six schools

Vuwani protesters set schools alight

The political fallout between the ANC government and residents of Vuwani has left dozens of pupils in Limpopo stranded after protesters burnt down schools in the area.

Vuwani sign
File photo: Bishop Baloyi

Disgruntled Vuwani residents turned on the schools shortly after community leaders announced that they had lost a high court battle to have their area excluded from the new municipality.

Vuwani residents had launched a high court bid following an announcement by the Municipa Demarcation Board (MDB) in 2014 that one municipality in Limpopo’s Vhembe district would be demarcated to fall under the Malamulele municipality.

Residents said that they wanted to remain under the Makhado municipality and argued that they were duped in understanding that the MDB consultation only meant that Mutale would be disolved thereby enhancing existing villages.

On Friday a Limpopo high court ruled against the Vuwani community’s application against the MDB’s decision to include their villages in the new municipality.

Pupils in the area who watched their schools go up into flames on Monday evening as anti-new municipality protesters who were against the MDB’s decision burnt the schools spent their Tuesday in the streets watching forensic investigators analysing the burnt classrooms that they were supposed to be in.

The Limpopo provincial education department predicted that the cost of repairing these schools burnt by protesters could run into millions of rand that was not budgeted for.

Limpopo education department spokesman Naledzani Rasila said the arson attacks on these schools would impact on the pupils’ future.

Protesters targeted schools that were identified as the polling stations for the upcoming Local Government Elections scheduled for August.

“We asked protesters to leave education and schooling out of their protests. We understand their rights to protest but burning infrastructure is reversing our progress,” said Rasila.

Two primary school pupils who spoke to the African News Agency (ANA) at Mashau village said they didn’t know how their schooling would proceed from this point on.

Rasila said the department could not comment on when and how education would continue in the area.

Four schools were burnt on Monday while two more were burnt on Tuesday. Two schools were in an area that was not part of villages that would be part of the new municipality.

But locals believed that these schools were targeted because their schools would be used as voting stations.

The province’s IEC head Nkaro Mateta expressed disappointment that the protesters had targeted voting stations as they only use schools on voting day.

Local police spokesman Solly Mokhola says they were investigating cases of arson and hoped that the forensic investigations would help them arrest the suspects.

He said a team would be sent to analyse the damage once the area was accessible and safe from violence.

Show's Stories