Protesters set fire to schools ahead of South Africa poll

Residents set schools ablaze ahead of South Africa's local polls in protest of poor social services.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Police officers keep watch in Mashau Dolly village in South Africa's northern Limpopo province.

Frustrated residents have set ablaze to at least 19 schools in South Africa’s northern Limpopo region, protesting against a change in municipal boundaries, as tensions rise ahead of local polls in August.

Vhudzani was among 19 schools completely burnt this week by residents protesting against boundary modifications they fear will leave them to lack infrastructure and basic amenities such as roads and water.

"The services will be much worse," said Tshanduko Mudau, 18, a student studying tourism, as black smoke rose behind him from the Mariadze Inclusive School, set alight on Thursday.

"There are shortages of water and you can see the roads," he said, pointing to the rutted gravel track leading to the school.

Protesters clashed with police as roads into the area are strewn with rocks, branches and debris. Several protesters were arrested. 

"If they don't respond, there will be no voting here," said Vuledzani Raveley, 28, a local school administrator manning a makeshift roadblock who said his place of work had also gone up in flames.

A burnt classroom is seen in Mashau village in South Africa's northern Limpopo province, May 5, 2016.

Poverty and unemployment is at its peak after the end of apartheid, igniting frustrations of the citizens against the government.

Unemployment is around 25 percent and income disparities glaring in an economy that could fall into recession.

South African President Jacob Zuma has condemned the attacks as his ruling party faces a tough battle amid corruption scandals from opposition the Democratic Alliance party and the ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) at local polls on August 3.     

TRTWorld, Reuters