Vuwani violence: Affected parties play the blame game

Cogta's made submissions at the SAHRC national hearing, assessing the impact of protests on education.

Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) says the violence that led to the torching of 24 schools in Vuwani last month could have been avoided had local councillors responded quicker.

The department has made submissions at the South African Human Rights Commission's (SAHRC) national hearing, assessing the impact of violent protests on education.

On Monday, the education department told the commission their counterparts at traditional affairs were partly to blame, saying they didn't respond with urgency to deal with demarcation issues in the area.

Over the last two days, various stakeholders made submissions to this commission - particularly about Vuwani and almost all of them have shifted blame.

The South African Police Service blamed the demarcation board for not being present when Vuwani was burning, while the education department said the issue was political and had to be resolved by the cooperative governance department.

Now, the department's acting director General Muthotho Sigidi says much responsibility lies with ward councillors.

"When there are critical matters that need to be dealt with, they disappear."

The State Security Agency will also make submissions today.

Furthermore, the Department of Basic Education says it's concerned that more than 52,000 pupils affected by violent demonstrations in Vuwani have not yet returned to class.

The department says it's particularly worried about matrics as their mid-year exams are approaching.

Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said, "It's been seven weeks now since any learning and teaching has taken place and this is worsening the situation especially for the learners because they have missed out on examinations and that, to us, is a problem."