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Bekkersdal back to normal...for now

The troubled township, marred by violent protests over the last few weeks, has returned to normal.

Police Nyalas outside a shop that was looted in Bekkersdal. 25 October 2013. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The troubled Westonaria township of Bekkersdal seems to have returned to normal this morning as schools open and a heightened police presence maintains calm.

In the last few weeks Bekkersdal residents have been protesting, battling with police and causing havoc in the streets.

Violent protests in the township have seen roads barricaded, the looting of shops and last week 20-year-old Themba Khumalo was shot dead.

Residents are demanding that the local municipality be placed under administration as it's failing the community.

The Greater Westonaria Concerned Residents Association signed an agreement with Tripartite Alliance leaders on Sunday to suspend protests until the Minister of Local Government and Cooperative Affairs intervenes.

Violence once again erupted over the weekend with residents stoning a church where Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane was attending a service.

A phone booth and property went up in flames in the main road.

The residents association's Paseka Ndevu says the protests ended after the premier left the township.

CALLS FOR MAYOR TO STEP DOWN

Angry residents are insisting that Executive Mayor Nonkoliso Tundzi be fired and her municipality placed under administration.

But Tundzi said while she is extremely concerned about the volatile situation at Bekkersdal she is not willing to step down.

She said it's not up to her to leave the post as she was deployed and must be given the order by her superiors.

"It's not that I'm not ready. But I am saying it's a matter that I don't have jurisdiction on. I cannot decide what to do."

BEKKERSDAL MATRICS MOVED

At the same time the Education Department confirmed on Saturday about 450 grade 12 pupils in the Bekkersdal township would be going to a special residential camp to ensure they write exams without disruption.

The class of 2013 began writing exams this morning and sat for English Paper 1.

The department's Gershwin Chuenyane says, "At the camp the pupils will also receive tuition. There will be tutors for the duration of their stay."