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Northern Cape - The lives of Olifantshoek matric pupils and their families have been put under severe threat after protesters petrol-bombed the home of one learner and threatened to do the same to other learners attending school camps.
The matriculant, whose home was petrol-bombed on Monday night, is part of a group of 32 matrics who have been sent by the Northern Cape Department of Education to a camp in Keimoes.
About 35 schools are closed in the Northern Cape following violent protests.
On Tuesday, one of the leaders of the protesters told the DFA that they would set more houses alight if the department failed to return the matriculants to the community immediately.
“The department must bring those children back or else their homes will also go up in flames,” the protest leader, who did not want to be named, stated.
He added that the situation in the town was tense on Tuesday after the learner’s house was torched on Monday night.
“As we speak now (on Tuesday) parents of matric learners who have been sent to Keimoes are queuing at the local police station demanding that the department bring back their children because they fear that their homes will also be petrol-bombed,” he stated.
The Northern Cape police downplayed the bombing of the home on Tuesday, saying that the petrol bomb that was thrown into the house through a window, did not explode.
“The house was not torched. The petrol bomb that was thrown into the house did not explode and therefore there was no damage to the house,” police spokesman, Colonel Hendrik Swart, said.
The department said that the protesters did not have a right to demand that the matric learners be brought back from the camp in Keimoes.
“We do not have an obligation to accede to the demands of the protesters. The only obligation we have as a department is with the parents of these learners and we will therefore continue to convince the parents of the other matric learners in Olifantshoek to allow their children to attend these camps,” the department’s spokesman, Sydney Stander, said on Tuesday.
He said that claims by protesters that the parents of the pupils gathered at the Olifantshoek police station to demand their return were untrue.
“The principal of Langeberg High School and some of parents of learners who were moved to Keimoes have received telephonic threats and they are currently at Olifantshoek police station to formally lay complains to police. They are not there demanding that the learners be returned. In fact no parents have approached us to return their children,” Stander stated.
Efforts to get hold of families of some of the learners were futile on Tuesday because both the protesters and the Department of Education refused to give the DFA contact details of the parents.
Police spokeswoman, Lieutenant-Colonel Andrea Cloete, said that the police were monitoring the situation in the town.
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