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‘Vuwani schools' torching was a big surprise’

Law enforcement agencies have been criticised for failing to avert damage to school property.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The police have told the South African Human Rights Commission hearings about the impact of violent protests on education, saying that the torching of schools in Vuwani, Limpopo, came as a big surprise.

Law enforcement agencies have been criticised for failing to avert further damage to school property, after the first four schools were torched overnight in the area.

Twenty-four schools have since been vandalised by residents during demarcation protests.

The Police's Divisional Commissioner for Operational Response Services, Elias Mawela, says police had information that key strategic buildings would be vandalised by protesters but schools were not part of this.

Human rights Commissioner Dr Danfred Titus then asked why the police did not know if schools were to be targeted, if they had intelligence on the ground.

But Mawela put the blame on the scarcity of resources.

The police say they have learnt lessons from Vuwani and one of them is to communicate more.

WATCH: Vuwani community resolute in violent protest