Education Dept unable to resume schooling due to tensions in Vuwani

Residents have continued their demonstration against the assimilation of Vuwani into a new municipality.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The Basic Education department says it will not be able to resume schooling in the Vuwani area in Limpopo because negotiations to end the shutdown of schools are still at a sensitive stage.

Residents have continued their demonstration against the assimilation of Vuwani into a new municipality

Over 20 schools have been torched or vandalised in violent protests since last week.

The department says it's not been able to conduct assessments of the torched schools due to the volatile situation in Vuwani.

Spokesperson Elijah Mahlangu said, "When roads are blocked and people don't want us to go in and if you go there you need to make sure that you've police to escort you. But you can't go on like that when we want to conduct an assessment."

Mahlangu said principals at the schools which have not been attacked are reluctant to resume teaching.

"The principals are concerned that the safety of learners is imperative at this point, and it's quite a reasonable step to take for them to keep kids away from school because you'll never know what might happen."

Twenty-one people arrested during the protests are due to appear in court on charges of public violence today.

Meanwhile, the Limpopo government said it has made what it calls a "powerful breakthrough" in negotiations with the majority of traditional leaders in the areas surrounding Vuwani.

The provincial government said it hopes these successful talks will see an end to a week of violence.

Spokesperson Phuti Seloba said traditional leaders have given a strong message that they too will be helping authorities to bring stability to Vuwani and other villages this week.

"They're very committed, they also shared the same sentiment with us as government about the delay and the violation of the rights of other people in the area and they've committed themselves to support and work together with the police and government."

Seloba said he believes the violence will now come to an end and children will be able to go back to school.

Co-operative governance minister Des van Rooyen and his state security counterpart David Mahlobo visited the troubled area over the weekend.