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Basic Education Dept concerned about Vuwani shutdown

Protests in the Limpopo town flared up again after the Municipal Demarcation Board refused to redetermine boundaries in the area.

FILE: Protesting Vuwani residents outside the municipal offices before being addressed by the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Makoma Makhurupetje on 6 February 2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – The Basic Education Department says it’s worried that children in Vuwani will miss yet another day of school on Tuesday.

Protests in the Limpopo town flared up again after the Municipal Demarcation Board refused to redetermine boundaries in the area.

The department says pupils are losing valuable schooling time and if the shutdown continues, millions of rands will be needed for catch-up programmes.

The Education Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says: “It’s concerning because we know what happens when learning is disrupted it is happening there and it’s a situation that we don’t want to see.”

The latest protests turned violent last week and two people were killed when their vehicle hit a pipe that was used to barricade a busy road.

Community leader Nsovo Sambo said the boycott will continue until their demands are met.

“The resolution taken by the community is that they will continue with the shutdown up until such matter is resolved to their satisfaction.”

The department appealed to Vuwani residents to allow some form of teaching and learning to take place, saying pupils will suffer as a result of the shutdown residents have imposed in the area.

Mhlanga said pupils have not attended classes since last Tuesday.

“[We ask that] some form of learning and teaching take place, even if it’s not for the full five days. If we can be allowed the space to do that, that would be appreciated.”

RESIDENTS SNUB MINISTERIAL DELEGATION

Last week, residents snubbed a meeting with Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to discuss the resurgence of anti-demarcation protests in the area.

When Eyewitness News arrived at the Vuwani community hall on Thursday where the meeting between Mbalula, his Cooperative Governance counterpart Des van Rooyen and residents was scheduled to take place, the venue was locked.

It’s not clear why the community stayed away and whether the ministers' earlier calls for calm reached them after the recent shutdown.

The inter-ministerial task team led by Van Rooyen has said it will do everything in its power to make sure there is stability in the troubled town.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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