Mbalula vows to intensify action against those fuelling violence in Vuwani
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has vowed to intensify action against those fuelling unrest in the Vuwani area in Limpopo.
Mbalula was speaking at a joint briefing by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vuwani. He also visited the area later in the day where he interacted with residents and met with one of the senior traditional leaders‚ chief Jeffrey Ramovha.
Mbalula said the time for being lenient on people who were “hell bent on creating a state of anarchy” in the area had come to an end. He said such people had continued to intimidate the community and shut down the area despite efforts by government to negotiate.
“Our commitment by being here is to intensify and consolidate our efforts to ensure that there is peace and the rule of law prevails in the area of Vuwani. We are aware that those who don’t want peace and want to achieve everything through violence are equally sophisticated but not more than the state‚” he said.
Mbalula said police would play their part in making sure that the people of Vuwani enjoy their freedoms.
He called for the thousands of pupils affected by the shutdown to return to class‚ saying those who encouraged discord had nothing to lose because they were already well educated.
“We will succeed working together with our communities to ensure that the perpetrators with selfish interest masquerading as the people’s leaders will be brought to book‚” Mbalula said.
Vuwani has been in a state of turmoil since last year with residents staging shutdowns and violent protests amid calls for a decision by the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) to include the area under the new Lim 345 municipality to be reversed.
Community leaders have stood firm in their demands despite two unsuccessful court bids to try to reverse the MDB’s decision.
Cooperative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen said they were now in a better position to resolve the problems in Vuwani after being able to isolate the problematic areas and so-called “kingpins” who were fuelling violence.
Van Rooyen said resources would be focused on catching those intimidating community members and the people behind them. He said only eight of the 36 wards in the area were problematic‚ adding that focus would be on troublesome areas such as Vyeboom.
Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha said the MDB’s decision should be respected‚ adding that it was even upheld by the Constitutional Court which was the highest court of the land. Mathabatha said provincial government would continue to support residents who wanted to receive services through the new municipality.
“We are not going to have a situation where the people of Vuwani who were present when we fought for this hard earned liberation are not able to enjoy this democracy. Sanity must prevail and order must come back‚” Mathabatha said.
Police have been monitoring the area for weeks due to a recent shutdown which has affected businesses‚ over 70 schools and municipal services. In recent days police have also warned motorists to be vigilant while driving around the area after six vehicles were stoned and damaged allegedly by protesting residents.