Arrest Protest Leaders Holding NC Kids To Ransom

Patricia De Lille

The following is a speech extract from Patricia De Lille’s address to a Democratic Alliance Women’s Network (DAWN) meeting in Kimberley, Northern Cape, on Saturday.

The collective failure of Acting Premier Grizelda Cjiekella and her government to show leadership on ending the protests keeping 16 000 children out of school must end immediately.

For three months the Premier’s office has watched this crisis grow so big that it now threatens the collapse of the education system in the John Taole Gaetsewe district.

It has been more than a week since the DA laid criminal charges against the leaders of the protests running the criminal disruption of schooling.

We demand that those behind the organized intimidation of school-children be arrested immediately.

The Premier must come out of hiding and send a public, unified call from the provincial government for a police presence in the district large enough to stabilize this political violence.

Three schools have already been burnt down and hundreds of learners relocated to an army camp and other secure locations.

There can be no doubt that the vast majority of residents in that district want a peaceful, non-destructive resolution to service delivery problems.

The Premier’s soft-handed approach of setting up a task-team with no clear objectives for solving the crisis is simply not good enough. In fact it has been more than a week since we’ve had any word at all from the Premier’s office.

As a party of government at provincial level, we understand the complications of having the police force being run by the national sphere of government.

However, where that police force is failing to ensure the constitutional right to safety and dignity for so many, then a provincial government must act decisively.

The DA has demonstrated this where we govern by calling for a commission of inquiry into the failure of the SAPS to effectively serve the community in Khayelitsha.

A DA government in the Northern Cape would under no circumstances have allowed this situation to escalate to a level where so many children will now need to repeat an entire year of schooling. This not only affects them, but also the next cohort of learners entering the foundation phase next year who will be confronted with packed classrooms and insufficient desks.

Acting Premier Cjiekella must act now by using her powers as the head of government to compel the provincial Police commissioner and Minister Nathi Mthethwa to make the necessary arrests and stabilize the area.

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