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Johannesburg - Gauteng police were breaking up groups of school children gathered on the streets of Bekkersdal, outside Westonaria, on Monday morning following days of violent protests.
“The police are telling them to go to school,” said a Sapa photographer on the scene.
The children were wearing school uniforms. Many of them had missed school in the past few days because of the protests.
The provincial education department announced last week that it had organised a special residential camp outside the area for matric pupils who started writing their final exams on Monday.
On Sunday, community leader Thabang Wesi said they did not want to disrupt the children's exams.
“We are suspending the protests and allowing schooling to continue and for the situation to return to normal in Bekkersdal,” said Wesi.
On Monday, police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said police maintained a strong visible presence in Bekkersdal as well as in the neighbouring Simunye township as the protests had spilled over to that area.
Several police officers, some on horseback, patrolled the streets.
At the entrance to Bekkersdal, members of the Metro Police and South African Police Service conducted a roadblock, searching vehicles entering and leaving the township. Burnt tyres and rocks were still lying in the streets.
Bekkersdal has been plagued by violent protests, with residents demanding the removal of the mayor and better service delivery.
Protesters have vandalised government properties and damaged police cars and a disaster management vehicle. Several people had been arrested and charged with public violence.
Wesi said community leaders met members of the tripartite alliance on Sunday and agreed to allow investigations launched by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Lechesa Tsenoli to proceed.
The group was expected to meet Gauteng human settlements and local government MEC Ntombi Mekgwe on November 3.
When Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane visited the area on Sunday, residents disrupted a church service she attended by throwing stones at the building.
Mokonyane condemned their action and said she would not be intimated.