“Education department has failed Northern Area communities” - Trollip
Democratic Alliance (DA) Eastern Cape leader, Athol Trollip, has blamed the poor state of schools and education in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth on yesterday’s violent protests, which left three people injured and members of the media robbed of their equipment.
A reported six police vehicles and one belonging to a local councillor were damaged after residents took to the streets just after 05h00, citing the lack of teachers at schools as the main reason. Two suspects, aged 19 and 21, are expected to appear in the Gelvandale Magistrates Court later today on charges of public violence.
News24 also confirmed that one of its journalists had his vehicle pelted with stones on-route to the area, while a Daily Sun reporter was hit over the head and robbed of his laptop, cellphone and camera.
According to reports, principles are expected to meet with the provincial Department of Education at 14h00 today as schools remain closed.
“For a parent to interrupt and obstruct their child’s education is a last act of desperation, to achieve a better future,” Trollip said in a statement.
“The fact is that schools in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth have been notoriously neglected, and parents cannot tolerate this affront to their children any longer. These schools are dangerous places, where gangsters and criminals prey on children because school safety is utterly ignored”.
Taking a swipe at the Nelson Mandela Bay Police Department, who used rubber bullets, stun grenades and water cannons to disperse residents, Trollip stated that the vision of well-equipped police force is “nothing more than a pipe-dream” as the area would have been safer if the unit was functioning fully.
“Where the DA governs in the City of Cape Town, dedicated Metro Police Officers are deployed to less-safe schools to protect children in harms’ way. The same could be true in Port Elizabeth if the Metro got its act together and made the Metro Police a reality”.
Rejecting the party’s acceptance of Executive Mayor Danny Jordaan’s recently tabled budget, which reportedly only allocated 5.9% to the development of the Northern Areas, Trollip said the province has “broken its promises to fill [teacher] vacancies” so as to address the problems of under-development
“Frustration and desperation are understandable in these circumstances. Violence by protesters is condemned, but the message of these parents must be taken seriously: safer and better schools in the northern areas are an immediate necessity.
“We implore the Eastern Cape Education Department to bring time-bound commitments to the area tomorrow, and to stick to its promises once and for all,” he said.
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