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Classroom set alight in Vhembe District

This comes a few weeks after at least 20 schools were torched in Vuwani by protestors.

FILE: The cause of the latest incident remains unclear. Picture: freeimages.com.

JOHANNESBURG - Limpopo police have confirmed a classroom has been set alight in the Vhembe District.

Yesterday, books and computers were burnt at the Mawela Primary School, in the Hlanganani area.

This comes a few weeks after at least 20 schools were torched in Vuwani by protesters demonstrating against their inclusion into the Malamulele Municipality.

The cause of the latest incident remains unclear.

Police spokesperson Ronel Otto said, "According to our reports, it is only the classroom that was damaged, together with computers and books inside the room. The cause of the fire is not yet known but we are investigating. No arrests have yet been made."

WATCH: Vuwani protests: Intimidation, fear mar resumption of classes

CALLS FOR STRINGENT ACTION

Earlier today, the Education Department Director General Mathanzima Mweli said the justice system must be "merciless" when dealing with people who "destroy state property".

He appealed to Parliament's Basic Education Portfolio Committee to strengthen legislation in order to send a strong message to people who target schools during protests.

Mweli and an official from the Limpopo Education Department briefed the committee on their Vuwani "recovery plan" after several areas were hit by protests over the establishment of a new municipality in the Vhembe District.

Officials say, in total, more than 50,000 pupils from 102 schools were affected by the unrest.

Mweli told lawmakers that for the first time in the country's history, nearly 30 schools were damaged in one week.

"We are busy reviewing the South African Schools Act and it's now reached the state of being called the BELA [Basic Education Laws Amendment Act]. I think some provision must find expression in that legislation to say that if you come near to our schools, you will meet the full might of the law."

The committee gave a detailed breakdown of the cost of the damages: the infrastructure bill is estimated at just over R174 million.

It costs R27,2 million to roll out 74 mobile classrooms and R3,1 million for security guards for three months.

R18,8 million worth of learning and teaching material was destroyed during the protests.

Additional reporting by Rahima Essop.