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Zwelihle schools reopen after violent protests

Protests over land and housing escalated into violent clashes between residents and police following the arrest of a community leader two weeks ago.

FILE: Residents of Zwelihle near Hermanus protest on 12 July 2018. Picture: Monique Mortlock/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Schools in Zwelihle have opened on Wednesday following disruptive protests in the Hermanus community.

Four schools had to be closed for days due to violent protests.

Protests over land and housing escalated into violent clashes between residents and police following the arrest of a community leader two weeks ago.

Western Cape Education MEC spokesperson Jessica Shelver says Zwelihle, Lukhanyo and Mount Pleasant Primary Schools, as well as Qhayiya Secondary have finally reopened.

“However, schools reported quite a low attendance rates. The department is still concerned, and we will be working with schools and parents to ensure that learners do return to schools if it’s safe for them to travel to and from school.”

Shelver says catch-up programmes will be implemented at the schools.

Meanwhile, Premier Helen Zille, who's been advocating for the army to be brought into Zwelihle, has welcomed Police Minister Bheki Cele's decision to increase policing in the area.

“If he can leave those police there and increase their numbers as much as it’s necessary to maintain law and order and protect people’s rights, then you don’t have to send the army in.”

Zille adds that if officers are unable to maintain law and order then the army must send in a peace-keeping force.