To: The MEC for Education for the Limpopo Province.Published by MAC on 2007-03-09
To: The MEC for Education for the Limpopo Province.
From: Richard Spoor
9 March 2007
Re. Closure / Relocation of Three Schools at Ga Puka and Ga Sekhaolelo, Mapela Circuit
We act on behalf of the residents of the Ga Puka and Ga Sekhaolelo villages of Mapela near Mokopane. Our clients are organised as the Mohlohlo Relocation Committee and their members include the overwhelming majority of parents of the learners who are attending the, Cornelius Masebe Primary School, the Jacob Puka Primary School, the Jan Malebana Primary School and the Mphunye Secondary School which schools serve our client community.
In relation to the matters covered in this letter only, I also represent Induna David Sekhaolelo the Induna of Ga Sekhaolelo, and chairman of the Mapela committee of Indunas.
It is not possible to furnish you with written mandates from all our individual clients due to pressure of time and the urgency of the matter but this can be done, should you require, it in due course. Our clients will also be holding a community meeting this Sunday 11 March 2007 at Cornelius Masebe and if you have any doubt as to our mandate and authority you may raise that issue at the aforesaid meeting.
The members of these two villages, (collectively referred to as the Mohlohlo Community) are engaged in a bitter and protracted dispute with Anglo Platinum Ltd over the proposed relocation of the community, comprising some 1300 households, to the farms Armoede and Rooibokfontein. The dispute is over the terms of the proposed relocation and the manner in which it is being forced through against the will of the community by Anglo Platinum. In essence our clients aver that the terms are oppressive and exploitative and gravely prejudicial to the rights and interests of the community. That it is being carried out without regard to the will of the community and that threats force and coercion are being used.
Since 1998 when its members were nominated Anglo Platinum has dealt with the directors of two Section 21 Companies established by the mine. One such company ostensibly represents Ga Puka and another Ga Sekhaolelo. Despite numerous requests that they do so these structures have never held an election or made themselves accountable to the community in any way.
These structures which are funded by Anglo Platinum have entered into highly unfair and prejudicial agreements with the PPL mine to relocate the community from Mohlohlo to Armoede and Rooibokfontein. They had no mandate and no authority to do so. The various agreements are in any event subject to certain suspensive conditions. One of the most important is that the minister of Land Affairs signs certain lease agreements. Cogent submissions have been made to the Director General of Land Affairs spelling out why it would be unlawful to enter into such agreements and the Director general has indicated that he is giving the submissions his serious consideration.
For about a year now our clients have sought to engage with Anglo Platinum but the company refuses to enter into discussions with our clients. This has led to conflict and protests characterised by violence being used against both women and children in the community.
Earlier this year the legislature investigated the relocations and roundly condemned Anglo Platinum and the Section 21 Companies conduct. A copy of that report is annexed for your information.
On Saturday 3 March 2007, at a Kgoro held at Mohlohlo, Kgoshigadi Langa the traditional leader of Mapela, ordered that the Section 21 companies be disbanded and that new elections be held.
Not surprisingly the section 21 companies have defied the Kgoshigadi and continue to operate with Anglo Platinum's active support.
The Premiers Office, the DME and the department of land Affairs are also busy with an investigation into these matters and a full report is expected within weeks.
The Mohlohlo community have told Anglo Platinum unequivocally that they will not relocate on the terms agreed between the mine and its proxies and they demand that Anglo Platinum agree to renegotiate the terms of the relocation with democratic and accountable community structures failing which the community will not move.
My clients instruct me that just this week the Ward councillor Mr Mampane came to advise the community that effective 13 March 2007 the learners of the above schools are to be bussed to new schools at Armoede and Rooibokfontein and that the four schools in Mohlohlo are to be closed.
This step has been done without consultation with the parents or the community. It is clear that this is something engineered by Anglo Platinum and their proxies, the section 21 Companies without any mandate and no authority in order to push ahead with and enforce the relocation against the will of the community.
It is our respectful submission that this step is completely unlawful, that the provisions of section 33 of the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 has application and that there has been a complete failure on the Provincial Department of Educations part to comply with the law and the constitution in relation to the closure / relocation of the schools. Neither the learners parents nor the public have been given a hearing, no reasons for the move have been furnished by the MEC and no opportunity has been provided for parents and community members to make representations.
We are advised that Anglo Platinum will bus the children to and from school. This is completely unacceptable it is dangerous and the community will not entrust its children to an organisation that has shown nothing but contempt for the community and its best interests. Until and unless Anglo Platinum shows a willingness to sit down and engage with the community there will also not be any relocation to Armoede. The community is simply not prepared to be separated from its children.
It seems very clear that the Department has been misled and deceived by Anglo Platinum or the section 21 Companies. Any action to close the schools or to move them to Armoede will be strongly opposed by the community and will be perceived as an attack by the Department on the community and an indication that the department has chosen sides with Anglo Platinum against the community.
In the circumstances please confirm that you will not close or relocate the schools in question from Mohlohlo to Armoede until and unless the parents and community have been given a hearing and an opportunity to make representations. Unless you do so we are instructed to bring an urgent application in the High Court to interdict the closure or relocation of the schools.
Should you wish to send someone to attend the community meeting scheduled for Sunday, which you are urged to do, please contact the Chairperson of the Relocation Committee, Ms Caroline Ramotsela, who is also a parent of children affected by the closure and relocation. Her cell phone number is 073 31487037.
We await to hear from you.
CC: The Honourable Minister of Education; Ms Naledi Pandor, by email email@example.com
The Premier of the Limpopo Province; co Mr David Nkoana, by email
The Director General of National Department of Education, by email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Director General of Education for the Limpopo Province. by Fax 0152970885
The Manager DOE Circuit office Mapela, Mr Ramokolo. By Fax 015 4830650
Thank you for your kind consideration of this matter.