The law library at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Howard Campus was set alightt.   Picture: FACEBOOK/DONAVEN MANNARU
The law library at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Howard Campus was set alight last week. Picture: FACEBOOK/DONAVEN MANNARU

GOVERNMENT, especially at local level‚ needs to improve the way it engages with communities to avert damage to schools and other infrastructure‚ the South African Human Rights Commission has found.

"There is a need to encourage people to find new ways of expressing their concerns so that their actions do not result in a negative impact on other rights‚ such as a right to basic education‚" said international liaison officer Judith Cohen.

She was speaking at the commission’s head office in Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon during the tabling of findings and recommendations of the human rights body after a national investigative hearing.

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The investigation followed protests at several educational institutions and the torching in June of more than 20 schools at Vuwani in Limpopo during protests in a demarcation dispute.

Cohen said a national response team should be established to address identified challenges.

"From these findings‚ the (Department of Basic Education) should constitute an interdepartmental national public protest-response team. The national body should include relevant government departments‚ particularly SAPS and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and other relevant stakeholders‚" said Cohen.

The national response team should share its reports and information with the National Planning Commission to that the effect of protests on the right to a basic education can be considered in the ongoing review of the National Development Plan.

Cohen said the police should prioritise protest actions that compromised school operations.

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