MALAMULELE - Hundreds of school children in Malamulele, in Limpopo, missed the first day of the 2015 academic year on Wednesday, as the town is in lockdown due to protests.
“The Malamulele community is still fighting for its own municipality and in protest have declared a total shutdown of all services for this week.
"Since the past weekend members of our public order policing have been deployed in the area and we are patrolling and monitoring the situation but no major incidents have been reported yet,” said Limpopo police spokesperson Colonel Ronel Otto.
In 2013, tens of thousands of residents took to the streets, burning down government buildings and shops during violent protests leaving over 60 people behind bars, facing charges of public violence.
In April last year, President Jacob Zuma was reportedly booed by residents when he visited the area and told community members that their grievances would be looked into.
But even after the president’s visit, most residents boycotted the May 7 general elections in protest, recording just a 44 percent voter turn-out.
The community wants its own municipality, but currently falls under the Thulamela Municipality.
The Limpopo Education Department says it is concerned that pupils are missing out on schooling, warning that the consequences of not attending school would be dire.
“As a province we don’t wish to see the future of our children being delayed. Parents should learn from what happened in the Northern Cape when children could not write exams due to these kinds of protests.
"We urge them to find other ways and means to raise their displeasure without interfering with their children’s education,” said spokesperson Paena Galane.
He added that the department is working to get children back in classrooms to resume the academic year.
“Since Monday our officials have been in deep conversation with the civic leaders and the municipality to at-least allow learning and teaching to take place,” said Galane.
Meanwhile, the town remains at a standstill and police are continuing to monitor the situation.