Police arrest 15 for Vuwani school torchings

President Jacob Zuma says the entire nation is in shock over what is happening in Limpopo.

One of the schools targeted in protests in the Vuwani area. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

VUWANI - Limpopo police have confirmed the number of people arrested for the violence in Vuwani has risen to 15.

Government says a total of 19 schools have been torched and several others vandalised over the past week in the Limpopo district.

Schools remain shut this morning, while a government task team has been appointed to deal with the situation on the ground,

The community is demanding that it be separated from the new Malamulele municipality and instead fall under the old Makhadu council.

The police's Malesela Ledwaba says the 15 people in custody will be charged with public violence, arson and malicious damaged to property.

"There will appear in court as soon as possible, but for now I suppose it will be on Monday. We're currently talking to the schools which were burned."

On Thursday President Jacob Zuma said nobody should be allowed to jeopardise the future of a generation of children by destroying schools.

He told Parliament the entire nation was in shock over the burning down of schools in the Vuwani district of Limpopo.

Zuma was replying to Wednesday's rowdy debate on the Presidency's budget vote.

Zuma said law enforcement agencies had been ordered to bring those behind the destruction of schools and other facilities in Vuwani to book.

"There is no grievance that can justify the destruction of property, especially schools, which are meant to help the next generation defeat poverty, inequality and unemployment.

"It cannot continue that people engage in such criminal behaviour and we do nothing about it. Protests are permissible, but they should be undertaken peacefully."

Zuma says the motives fuelling the destruction need to be uncovered.

WATCH: Community vows to continue protests


While residents of Vuwani are pleading with government to put an end to the torching of schools, the security cluster says it doesn't believe the sustained violence reflected a failure by intelligence services, and they were trying to isolate the culprits.

Some pupils have told Eyewitness News that the demonstrations over demarcation will affect exams, while parents have called for urgent action.

Yesterday, the State Security Minister David Mahlobo visited two of the schools and brought in police reinforcements.

"They said maybe on Monday we can go back to school, but we're not sure. Those people want them to change their decision."

One woman says government needs to step up its interventions.

"I think kids will fail because very soon the grade 12s will be writing exams and it's going to affect them."

But Mahlobo says South Africa's intelligence services are not to blame.

"Was there an intelligence failure? The answer is a a big no. We've deployed a good number of them on the ground, working with our own communities, we're starting to apprehend them."

"But we're going to take action around the people who're ferrying these youngsters to burn the schools, especially those that are selling the petrol."


Government says it doesn't believe people torching schools in Vuwani are part of a protest over demarcation and instead suspect organised crime syndicates are behind the arson attacks.

Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu says the torching of 19 schools is unprecedented.

"There's never in the history of this country that within such a short space of time 19 schools can be burned down to the ashes, unless it is an organised crime."