Northern Areas schools re-open 'peacefully'

JULY 30, 2015

Schools in Port Elizabeth, closed due to protest action since Monday, have re-opened without incident, the Northern Areas Education Forum (NAEF) said.

"It was smooth, quiet and peaceful," NAEF secretary Richard Draai told News24.

"Attendance was not as expected, but the schools have been re-opened."

He could not provide further information as he was on his way into a meeting with Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Danny Jordaan.

Residents recently closed down schools in the area to protest against a shortage of teachers and non-payment of those who are already employed, among other problems.

Police spokesperson Captain Johan Rheeder said the Northern Areas appeared to be calm on Thursday.

"It's very quiet. The kids are back at school and everything is back to normal. There are no criminal activities happening."

Rheeder could not provide details on the court appearances of five people who were arrested for public violence during the protests.

Police had to disperse protesters on Monday with rubber bullets, teargas and a water cannon. Children from homes overlooking the troubled Standford continued to pelt cars with stones on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning.

By Wednesday afternoon, municipal workers were seen sweeping away ash and rubbish, and removing boulders from the road.

Parents, residents and the NAEF decided at a meeting on Tuesday night to reopen the schools on Thursday after the provincial education department said it was dealing with the issues they raised.