The total number of schools burnt in Vuwani, just outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo, now stands at 25, with an additional four others damaged, the Limpopo education department confirmed yesterday.
Vuwani has been tense for months leading up to last month’s local government elections amid calls by residents for the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) to reverse its decision to merge their area with Malamulele and other surrounding villages.
The arson attacks on schools, according to spokesperson for the department Naledzani Rasila, continue to be a concern.
“But we believe that residents from different villages will work with law enforcers in apprehending those suspects behind the arson attacks,” he said.
During the early hours of Sunday, three classrooms and a staff room of another school were set alight – this time in nearby Malamulele, an area which was also gripped by violent community protests in 2015, when locals were demanding a municipality of their own.
About six schools were torched during the 2015 unrest in Malamulele, according to Rasila.
“These arson attacks are a serious setback, considering that we still have a backlog to address in terms of refurbishing some schools. In some areas, due to the increasing demand, the department has to build new schools but currently does not have the funds,” Rasila said.
He said the majority of the close to 4 000 schools in the province require intervention in the form of refurbishment.
Meanwhile, police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojalefa said no arrests have been made yet.
“We have deployed our provincial task team to the area to also help with the investigations,” he said.