20/04/2017 14:04 BST | Updated 20/04/2017 14:30 BST

Mbalula Tells Residents In Shut-Down Vuwani That It's Time To Move On

"Perpetrators with selfish interest masquerading as community leaders will be brought to book," the minister of police warned.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) keep watch at a school used as a polling station during tense local municipal elections in Vuwani, August 3, 2016.

Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula said the decision over the Vuwani demarcation has been made and cannot be reversed; protest action must end and pave the way for peace.

"A decision has been taken at an objective level, and it cannot be reversed, we got to move on... law and order must prevail," said Mbalula.

The town has been shut down by people protesting the decision to incorporate Vuwani into a new municipality called LIM345, with schools torched and property damaged.

Mbalula was speaking during an inter-ministerial committee media briefing in Polokwane on Thursday to discuss VUwani's shutdown.

"We are aware that there are those who don't want peace. They are equally sophisticated but not more than the state. We have been lenient over time in dealing with them, and very reasonable and now they have terrorised society, and shut down the schools and barred people from going to work," said Mbalula.

Residents of Vuwani took to the streets after the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) refused to review the decision to incorporate their area into Lim345.

They are refusing to be part of the municipality in Malamulele, saying it was conceived by the violent demand of Malamulele residents.

Appeal dismissed

But Mbalula insists that violence must end, and that residents have to accept the decision and move on.

"Those who are perpetrating the violence, whether small fish or big fish... perpetrators with selfish interest masquerading as community leaders will be brought to book," said Mbalula.

"We will therefore continue to engage them on this matter and other matters that the provincial government has been working with the community since this issue started and we will continue to work tirelessly with them in the area."

Leader of the inter-ministerial team, Makoma Makhurupetje, who is also Co-operative Governance MEC in the province, said the position of the committee on the current situation is that learners must "go back to school" and those being intimidated should report to the police.

"We cannot afford any more disruptions in Vuwani and we are appealing to parents to work with us to protect their children's future."

In March, the Municipal Demarcation Board informed the community that their appeal to have the decision reversed had been dismissed.

Co-operative Governance Minister Des Van Rooyen said that government respect the decision taken by the MDB.

"The decisions of demarcation board and the ruling by court suggest that we should engage the community so that they can start accepting the decision as if the final determination."

It has emerged that some sectors of the community has accepted the decision but there is some resistance from others that used to be called the Pro Makhado Demarcation group.

However, the news was not welcomed in the area, and fresh violence erupted which forced business and government service points to shut down.

Van Rooyen said that they are working with the security cluster to ensure that service delivery is rolled out through the new municipality.

More than twenty five schools were burnt in 2016 when violence erupted after residents lost a high court bid to have the decision reversed.