The reports that, as on Friday the 06th day of May 2016, about 23 schools were either completely or partly damaged by fire allegedly by some of the people who are opposed to the inclusion of their area to the newly established local municipality in the Vhembe district municipality area is a source of grave concern to the Black Lawyers Association (BLA). The BLA condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the burning down of school buildings and other infrastructure in Vuwani and the surrounding villages. This is an act of pure criminality which cannot be condoned in any manner whatsoever. Burning down of schools adversely affects the children’s right of access to basic education as is guaranteed under section 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. No one should be allowed to arbitrarily interfere with the right to education. What is concerning even more is that at stake is the fate of a black child.
BLA cannot afford to stand aside and watch when thousands of black and rural school children are being denied their right to access to a basic education. These children will lose out in their school time and risk to lose their future as well. Education is the key to enjoyment of all other rights promised in the Constitution for without proper education all other rights remain a dream.
BLA does not condemn strikes which are conducted within the ambit of the law. A strike should respect the rights and properties of others. As such we recognise the rights of the people to strike. But in as much as we recognise the right of people to strike or protest we denounce the burning down of schools and residence of other residents. Burning down of schools will never be a solution to any of the problems affecting the communities concerned. This has problems of its own because post the strike the affected children will be left with no appropriate learning facilities. This is even worse because Limpopo Province is known for its bad Matriculation results.
We believe that those who are behind this barbaric conduct do not have the blessings of the organisers of the strike nor do they enjoy the support of the Vuwani community. These are the criminals who are abusing the Vuwani situation. We call upon the law enforcement agencies to hunt them down until they bring all of them in the book. Torching of schools during the night is a clear indication that the perpetrators are criminals who are indulging in their coward criminal activities.
We commend the Pro Makhado task team and the traditional leaders who deemed it important to take a lead in this matter and referred their disputes to the court of law for appropriate adjudication. To BLA this is very important because they showed faith in our judiciary and entrusted it with their disputes, to solve. This promotes the rule of law. We encourage them to take their case to the next level of the court’s hierarchy if they are not satisfied by the decision of the Limpopo Provincial Division. And we call upon them to also denounce all the criminal activities which are being pursued in the name of their strike.
Lutendo Benedict Sigogo
9 May 2016