Role players meet over torched Limpopo schools, violent protests

Violent protests in Vuwani and Levubu have resulted in the torching of 17 schools.

The Vhudzani Secondary School is one the 17 schools which have been touched by the Vuwani community. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

THOHOYANDOU - A meeting between Limpopo MECs, traditional leaders, chiefs and education officials is now underway at the Vhembe District Municipality council chambers in Thohoyandou, in a bid to end a demonstration that's left 17 schools torched and classes suspended.

Residents of Vuwani and Levubu do not want to be included in the new municipality set up in Malamulele and attempts to convince them to stop blocking roads and stoning passing cars has failed.

A provincial task team has now been set up to address the residents' demands to remain in the Makhado Municipality.

The meeting is only open to district officials, but the Limpopo's premier's office says locals are not being excluded from their plans.

The task team to resolve the vandalism of 17 schools was set up this week in the midst of escalating violence.

Traditional leaders mandated by the Tshivenda king, as well as traditional healers, are meeting with government and police.

The Limpopo premier's spokesman, Kenny Mathivha, says Vuwani Chief Nthumeni Masia is not being purposefully excluded.

"The chiefs know about the meeting. They are not part of this meeting today. But this meeting is looking at the technical side. The South African Police Service is here."

Masia is one of the chiefs who have called on Vuwani residents to object to their inclusion in the new municipality.

Mathivha says they will conduct widespread consultation.

"This is the first of a series of meetings that are going to happen between today, tomorrow, and if called for, the next four days."

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen is also expected in Thohoyandou later today.

PROTEST DAMAGE

The Limpopo Education Department says as soon as the violent protests come to an end, authorities will be able to assess the extent of the damage.

Schools have been on lockdown in the Vuwani village and surrounded areas after a fourth day of violence.

Yesterday, the National Education Department estimated that it would cost over R400 million to repair 13 schools, before four more schools were set alight.

Limpopo Education's Naledzani Rasila says, "It will be from this assessment that we get a way forward on what needs to be done so that we continue with learning and teaching."