Burning of schools in Vuwani over demarcation protests must be resolved

Fifteen people have now been arrested in the area of Vuwani in Limpopo, for alleged vandalism after 19 schools have been set alight and several others have been badly damaged in the area.

Schools are closed again today, while senior government officials, including State Security Minister David Mahlobo, now trying to talk to residents to stop the protests.

EWN's Govan Whittles is on the scene and spoke to Stephen Grootes.

The police presence in Vuwani has certainly made a difference. This morning we saw police out in full force setting up stop and searches.

Govan Whittles, EWN Reporter

But in areas like Meshau, where roads have been barricaded since Monday, and seven schools have been torched, the mood is still tense.

Govan Whittles, EWN Reporter

Whittles says young people keep rebuilding the barricades as soon as police tear them down.

He says there are parent initiatives have been protecting schools from being burnt down.

What we have seen since yesterday, and that initiative by the parents, is that the traditional leaders and the chiefs who had initially called for the Vuwani residents to object to the incorporation of the municipality, are now meeting with the three ministers.

Govan Whittles, EWN Reporter

Hopefully after that they intend to address the community to tell them to end the protest so some other solution can be found.

Govan Whittles, EWN Reporter

Whittles says the outcome of this meeting is likely to determine whether protests are suspended, at least for the weekend.

Jane Thupana Chairperson of the Demarcation Board spoke to Stephen Grootes and says the Board is very saddened by the protests in Vuwani.

Going back to the decision itself, the board operates within prescribed legislation and consultation processes defined in law. That is what the board did when arriving at the decision.

Jane Thupana, Chairperson of the Demarcation Board

We really appreciate the stance of the community when they were unhappy with our decision, that they escalated the matter to the courts. Only a court of law can review and decide to set aside the decision or not.

Jane Thupana, Chairperson of the Demarcation Board

The courts found in the boards's favour and Thupane says the board believes it did its best in the matter.

We still believe we did the best we could within the prescripts of the law and in the interests of citizens and towards realising a more integrated, transformed and sustainable local government through demarcation of municipal boundaries.

Jane Thupana, Chairperson of the Demarcation Board

She says they are surprised at the intense reaction now.

It happens in all areas across the country that some do not agree. I do not imagine you find 100% acceptance of a decision. But consultation took place...and people understand the democratic process.

Jane Thupana, Chairperson of the Demarcation Board

We are equally baffled bu it (the protests). We have never before seen a reaction like this.

Jane Thupana, Chairperson of the Demarcation Board

Listen to both interviews below:

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