/ 3 February 2015

Malamulele school in Limpopo set alight, despite lockdown

Malamulele residents during an ANC election rally at Malamulele Stadium last year
Malamulele residents during an ANC election rally at Malamulele Stadium last year

A section of the Malamulele High School in Limpopo has been damaged by a fire, Limpopo police said on Tuesday.

The administrative block caught fire late on Monday night, said police spokesperson Colonel Ronel Otto. “At this stage, the cause of the fire is not yet known … We cannot rule out that it was an arson attack,” she said.

The township of Malamulele has been tense and under heavy police watch following a month of violent protests. 

Otto said Malamulele was quiet but tense on Tuesday morning. “We have a strong police presence in the area. Besides the school fire, no other incidents have been reported since last night,” she said.

The town was under lockdown on Monday morning after month-long protests brought the area to a standstill.

Otto on Monday said the situation was tense. “It is like a ghost town, everything is closed.”

She said only employees of the SA police service and the health care sector were working. All other businesses and institutions – including schools – had been shut down.

Otto said she expected this to continue until Friday.

A meeting was expected to take place at the weekend to discuss the matter, she added.

Malamulele does not qualify
The area has been brought to a standstill in recent weeks following a demand by residents that they be granted their own municipality. Protests first started in the town before general elections in May last year.

On Friday, the Municipal Demarcation Board’s (MDB) announcement that Malamulele does not qualify for its own municipality led to roads being blocked and tyres set alight in protest.

The Limpopo government responded, saying that they have “committed ourselves to study the report and act on the findings and will in due course propose a course of action”.

Residents have alleged that the Thulamela municipality has been channelling services to Tshivenda-speaking areas, rather than their own, which is dominated by Xitsonga speakers.

Speaking earlier on Monday, Otto said that no violence or protests had been reported since the announcement.

“Since Friday, when the announcement was made, no incidents have been reported. It is quiet in the area. We still have a police presence in the area.” – Sapa