(File image) Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Photo: Masi Losi

Kimberley - Thousands of learners who have been prevented from attending school by protesting community members in various parts of the John Taolo Gaetsewe District (JTGD) are expected to go back to school on Tuesday after months of languishing at home.

This comes after Friday’s meeting between the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela and various communities in the JTGD.

Madonsela’s spokeswoman, Kgalalelo Masibi, said this weekend that after their successful meetings with the protesting communities in the JTGD, an undertaking was made to allow children to go back to school while dealing with the community’s grievances.

Several community members in various villages of JTGD confirmed to the DFA on Monday that all affected children will be allowed to go back to school on Tuesday after Madonsela’s intervention.

“We are pleased by Madonsela’s involvement in resolving our problem. Thus far she is the only person who has listened to us without judging us for preventing children to go to school,” one resident said.

“She has not only listened to us but she has also restored hopes in us that the road that we are demanding will be built.”

Madonsela was accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Godfrey Olifant, who gave the community a report back on a commitment by Sishen Iron Ore Community Development Trust to construct 40 kilometres of the 130 kilometres of the tarred road the community want prioritised.

Masibi said that last week’s meeting also saw commitments on the need for feedback to be given to the community regarding sourcing of the funding for the prioritised 130 kilometres of the 720 kilometres of the roads that the community has been engaging government on.

She said that on Tuesday Madonsela will visit Laxey village near Kuruman where she will give feedback to the community of JTGD on their demands.

“Madonsela has advised the community that government has committed itself to do everything possible to source funds from various institutions such as business, municipalities and conditional grants to realise the rolling out of the road infrastructure.

“The community has also been advised that the provincial government will be indicating the actual commitments at the meeting we will have with them on Tuesday (today).

“After meeting with the community, Madonsela will engage with the police management to discuss various allegations made by protesting residents. Among some of the allegations made are that of police brutality and unlawful arrests of protesting residents,” Masibi stated.

Masibi added that after the meetings in Kuruman, Madonsela will on Wednesday make her way to Olifantshoek to meet with protesting residents who have for months shut down schools in the town demanding that their mayor be fired from her office.

The leader of the protesting community members, Boitumelo Lekgadi, said that they will welcome Madonsela to the town but warned that if she failed to remove the mayor, schools will not resume. “Schools will not be opened just because Madonsela is coming to Olifantshoek. Normal schooling will resume once the mayor has been removed,” Lekgadi stated.

The Department of Roads and Public Works in the Province said its priority is to obtain R1.3 billion needed to fund the construction of the road that the residents of JTGD are demanding.

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