Twenty-three years into democracy, Vhembe is still caught up in allegations of tribalism between Tsonga-speaking and Venda-speaking people.
Recently, Ms Ndivhuwo Rasivhaga was “stopped” from occupying her position as station commander at the Malamulele Traffic Station “by officers at the station” who allegedly said they did not want to be led by a Venda-speaking person.
According to information from the department, Rasivhaga, who was working as a principal provincial inspector based at Tshilamba in Mutale, was supposed to assume her new position as chief provincial inspector (station manager/commander) in Malamulele on 1 November. The provincial department, however, was forced to instruct Rasivhaga to report to their offices based at the old parliamentary buildings in Thohoyandou, while they were busy addressing the issue.
In her comment, the HOD for transport in Limpopo, Ms Hanli du Plessis, confirmed through her media liaison officer, Mukondeleli Tshifura, that “the department is aware of the situation and it is giving it the necessary attention.”
Meanwhile, Limpopo Mirror has managed to locate some of the 15 traffic officers who were also forced to flee from the same station in August 2013 after they were allegedly told that “Vendas are not needed in Malamulele.”
The officers said everything was continuing very well since they were deployed in Malamulele in 2008, until the time that protest marches by community members, who were demanding that they be granted their own municipality, separate from Thulamela, took place.
“We started to hear the community singing songs insulting Vendas. Some even said openly that they did not want to see Vendas in their areas. Others said they were tired of hearing 'Aa' and 'Nndaa'.
“When we were manning the roads, some of the drivers would tell us straight that they were not prepared to be stopped by Vendas in their own area. They said we must go back to our homes and work there,” the officers said.
The Tshivenda-speaking officials also mentioned that a shutdown took place on a certain day, “and we only learnt about it when we were going to work. We later learnt that our colleagues from Malamulele, who were Tsonga speakers, knew about it, but they never tipped us off. After being threatened by the community, we realized that we were not safe, and we left and reported the matter to our senior, who told us to report in Thohoyandou until today”.
When asked if they would go back to Malamulele, another officer flatly refused and said they were not safe there.
The spokesperson for the Limpopo Government, Mr Phuti Seloba, said they were disappointed about the alleged conduct of officers at the Malamulele traffic station. “It must be known that this province belongs to all who live in it, irrespective of the language, culture and beliefs.” He added that, according to the government, “people of this province are equal. We appeal to anyone who experiences such uncalled-for conduct to report the matter to the police, so that those who are promoting it face the full might of the law”.
According to him, anyone who discriminates against others in terms of tribal reasons is violating the Constitution, which is a serious crime.
Meanwhile, Mr Nsobo Sambo, spokesperson for the Pro-Makhado Task Team, said the allegations of tribal conflict between Vendas and Tsongas was influenced by the government that failed to deal with the matter when it started during the Pro-Malamulele Task Team. “When people from Malamulele said they wanted their own municipality that did not include Venda-speaking people, the government did nothing to address it. What they did was to grant a municipality that also included Venda-speaking people from Vuwani and other areas, just to make sure that they pleased people from Malamulele.”
Sambo added that it is unfortunate that people from Malamulele hid behind tribalism when they demanded their own municipality, “hence they knew very well that they just wanted the municipality for their own personal reasons.”
When asked why the Pro-Makhado group was refusing to be part of Lim 345, Sambo said that their position had been and was still clear and that they had not been properly consulted. “It is unfortunate that the same people who are tribalistic are accusing us of the same thing, which is wrong. Myself, Sambo, I am a Tsonga. Our deputy chairperson, Arnold Mulaudzi, is married to a Tsonga woman, our secretary, Patrick Mahafha, is married to a Tsonga woman, Thovhele Mmbangiseni Masia is married to a Tsonga woman.”
He added that it proved that the allegations made against them that they were tribalistic were totally unfounded.
When approached for comment, Nukeri Maluleke from the Pro-Malamulele Task Team said: “I will only comment about the issue after investigations.”