'Traditional leaders may have played prominent role in Vuwani violence'

The village has been in the spotlight around the world this week, with more than 20 schools being damaged.

The Vhudzani Secondary School was torched by the Vuwani community. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Tsonga royal leaders say they believe traditional leaders may have played a prominent role in fuelling the violence in Vuwani.

The village has been in the spotlight around the world this week, with more than 20 schools being either completely destroyed or vandalised.

LISTEN: Where to now after violent protests in Vuwani?

They say the only way the violence in Vuwani can come to an end is if traditional leaders work with communities and government to address the underlying issues.

The royal leaders believe the situation in Limpopo could escalate to a tribal war.

Community members are protesting against their inclusion into the new Malamulele council from the Makhado Municipality.

Chairperson of Vatsonga-Machangani royal leaders Hosi Nwamitwa says, "You know there are some criminals in the community and as traditional leaders we don't think we can stop this alone. This doesn't mean that we don't have to say anything, but we can join hands and say enough is enough."

At least 15 people were arrested in connection with the torching and destruction of the schools in the area since the start of the week.

Vatsonga royal leaders say they urgently need to speak to traditional leaders. Nwamitwa says they are firmly opposed to the abuse of democracy to advance ethnic and tribal interests.

The royal leaders have called for an urgent end to the tribal tension in Vuwani, to avoid what they call a "state of anarchy".

WATCH: Vhavenda King backs his people but calls for an end to violence


State Security Minister David Mahlobo says the culture of violence and lawlessness in Vuwani needs to be condemned by South Africans.

Mahlobo visited villages which have been hit by protests and inspected the damage caused to schools and other property.

He was joined by Cooperative Governance Minister Des Van Rooyen and Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu.

Mahlobo says when the issues of demarcation were raised and government consulted residents.

"The culture of violence and lawlessness is something that all of us who are peace-loving South Africans need to condemn."

He says people involved in the attacks are hooligans seeking either economic or political gain.

"These people are being used by certain hooligans either for economic benefit or destabilisation for political gain. It is very difficult for law enforcement agencies to occupy every corner in those communities."

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) has also condemned the violence.

While ANCYL says it's disappointed by what it calls "the failure of security forces to protect the future of black children", government says it's facing difficulties containing the ongoing violence.

The ANCYL's Mlondi Mkhize says no amount of discontent can justify the destruction of property and prevent children from going to school.

"That is going to deprive our people from education and the right for them for them to school. So when you burn a facility, you are infringing on that right. It is very important that as a youth league we speak against this."