Kimberley - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday condemned the burning of part of a primary school in Kuruman, Northern Cape.
“Preventing learners from their right to an education and malicious destruction to infrastructure cannot be tolerated,” Motshekga said in a statement.
She said the administration blocks of some schools in the area had been set alight in the past two months.
The department suspected the arson was linked to protests in the area that have prevented pupils and staff at54 schools attending class since June 5.
Lieutenant Olebogeng Tawana said Keatlholela Primary School in Hyson village was set alight between 4am and 5am on Wednesday. A case of arson was opened and no arrests had been made.
Tawana would not say whether the arson was linked to protests in the area.
Members of a group calling themselves the Road Forum began protesting on June 5 demanding that a 130km road in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district municipality be tarred, Northern Cape premier Sylvia Lucas's spokesman Monwabisi Nkompela said.
The protesters were allegedly barring pupils and staff from going to schools to get the attention of the authorities.
Nkompela said the tender to tar the road was opened on June 12 and closed on July 18.
“The tender is at a stage where the project managers at the (roads and public works) department are evaluating which bidder met the specific requirements.”
Members of the forum were sowing destruction in the area without considering the process, he said.
Motshekga also called for pupils and staff to be allowed to return to their schools.
“Learners cannot continue to be used as bargaining chips in a situation that could have a negative effect on their future.”
A detailed catch-up and recovery plan for all schools would be provided if pupils were allowed to return, and teaching and learning resumed, she said.