File photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

 

Johannesburg - Protest organisers in Malamulele, Limpopo, said on Tuesday they awaited a scheduled visit by officials from the co-operative governance department.

“I received an email this morning from the department that officials will be here on Wednesday. The email did not state who are the people coming,” said task team secretary general Isaac Nukeri.

“We hope a solution to the problems here will be reached tomorrow.”

Protesters demanding their own municipality have brought the area to a standstill and barred pupils from attending school.

They forced shops in the local mall to close two days before inland schools were due to open for the new academic year.

The Municipal Demarcation Board was blamed by protesters for not heeding their call for Malamulele and some surrounding areas, especially those that are Xitsonga-speaking, to have its own municipality.

The demand for another municipality has fuelled tensions between Tshivenda and Xitsonga speakers and triggered division among local traditional leaders as some regard it as a tribal issue.

Earlier, the SA Human Rights Commission called on residents to respect children's right to education.

The organisation said the forceful removal of children from school was a violation of a right and an offence punishable by law.

Nukeri said the commission would not help the residents or give them their own municipality.

“The chairman of the SAHRC in Limpopo called me to complain about the shutting down of schools. Will the commission help us and give us a municipality? I don't think so... they should come here and see the situation we are faced with,” he said.

The commission in Limpopo told Nukeri they would arrange a visit to Malamulele soon, he said.

Nukeri said the situation in the area was tense, and only health workers were allowed in and out of the area.

Roads in the area were monitored to make sure no business took place.

“All shops are closed... we do not even have bread. We are prepared to continue like this until our demands are met.”

Sapa