21 Limpopo protesters expected in court

African News Agency

21 Limpopo protesters expected in court
Damage after Vuwani protests. Photo (ANA)

PROTESTS – Twenty-one of the initial 23 people arrested in connection with the torching of over 20 schools in the Vhembe district in Limpopo are expected to appear in the Malamulele Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Police spokesman Lt-Col Malesela Ledwaba said 23 had been arrested but two of them had since been released as they could not be linked to the crime.

“The arrest of the 21 was a sequel to the incidents of destruction and burning of 24 schools. Twenty schools were burnt down while four were damaged. Tribal offices, a satellite police station, and a Post Office at Mashau village were also torched while vehicles were also damaged,” said Ledwaba.

Calm was restored and police maintained a strong presence after a week-long protest that saw thousands of school pupils in limbo after protesters turned their anger on schools and other public buildings in and around the Vuwani area. Public transport services and businesses remained closed.

The violent protests started last Sunday after residents were told by community leaders that their court bid to be excluded from a new municipality had failed.

A Limpopo High Court last Friday ruled against the Vuwani community’s application against the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) decision to include their villages in the new municipality which would encompass Vuwani and Malamulele.

Traditional leaders and the Vuwani task team insist they were not consulted about the move because the invitation to the MDB public hearing did not specify that their villages would be affected by the new demarcation.

On Friday, VhaVenda king Toni Mphephu Ramabulana told reporters that he supported protests against the MDB decision, but condemned the violence and destruction of property.

Villagers were protesting because they wanted to remain within the Makhado municipality, he said, and called for authorities and traditional leaders to work together to resolve the impasse.

Ramabulana held a closed meeting with human settlements and traditional affairs MEC Makhoma Makurupetje and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

With additional police sent to the Vuwani area, protesters vowed to continue fighting against inclusion in the new municipality until August 3, when the 2016 local government elections are scheduled to take place.

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SOURCEAfrican News Agency