FEAR, grand-standing and loathing are now reigning as the situation in Vuwani, Limpopo, continues to degenerate.
Scores of people and almost 30 000 pupils in 76 schools are being prevented to go to work and classes respectively, whilst the Pro Makhado Task Team and the government dare each other.
Police, on the other hand, have promised an iron-fisted approach to acts of criminality during the shutdown which has also drawn loathing between community leaders and the ANC in the province.
Task team spokesperson, Nsovo Sambo, vowed that nothing will change, saying the shutdown of services in the area has always included teaching and learning process.
“The total shutdown of services has always been like this. There are no changes. In the past school children in Vuwani experienced shutdown for three months but there was a school in Vuwani which obtained a 100 percent pass rate and the district that performed well was Vhembe. Vhembe was the number one performing district,” Sambo said.
In response to government pleas to let people go to work and pupils to attend classes, Sambo retorted: “Government spokesperson must come here (Vuwani) to engage with the people on the ground.”
He predicted that some people in the community may embark on criminal acts but their actions should not be blamed on the task team.
Police have since indicated that two people were burnt to death after the car in which they were travelling in hit a barricade used to blockade the road.
A case of culpable homicide is being investigated.
Several vehicles have also been stoned in the area. But government spokesperson, Phuti Seloba, remained resolute.
He said the government has made its decision about demarcation and he advised workers to go to work and parents to release children to schools.
“Those who do not agree with the protest like already there is fair number of residents who are saying enough is enough. We are saying that they should feel protected. We will be in support as the provincial government. Parents should remember that last year we went through tough time. This time they should release their children to school. They should support their children and must not be in support of the people who want to destroy the future of children, families and the community, Seloba said.
“They need to make sure that those who are intimidating them are brought to book. We are ready and the police are ready in the area as government. We have a system in place. Those who want to go to work they must go to work. Those who want to protest let them protest. We can’t have people who are not working anywhere to dictate to people that they can’t go to work.”
Last year, almost 30 schools were torched or vandalised and other properties damaged when the residents embarked on violent protests to force the government the Municipal Demarcation Board to reverse its decision to include the area in the new Lim345 municipality with its base in Malamulele.
The situation calmed down when residents were assured that they could make new submissions to the demarcation board.
However, their new submissions did not convince the demarcation board, hence they again embarked on a shutdown.
The shutdown was suspended over the Easter weekend but was resumed this week after a mass meeting in the area. It was also after Tshirunzanani Primary School was almost torched when stationery and other materials were burnt by unknown people.
Cosas strongly condemned the act and pointed out that “we find it disturbing to have people calling themselves parents but you find them violating rights of the very same children they are claiming to be parenting.”
The ANC in the province has now weighed in and has established a task team to try to resolve the matter in the area.
But Sambo has dismissed the efforts by the party which he said does not represent the views of Vuwani residents: “The task team reminds the provincial ANC that they are not God of the Vuwani residents and they will not be dictated by the puppet leadership which failed to provide decisive leadership.”
He also attacked Cosas: “All the affected schools in Vuwani have no affiliation or membership with COSAS and we therefore request them to stay on their lane and not become puppets of the ANC propaganda.”