Life in Bloem after the Reitz Four

By Drum Digital
09 March 2011

THE most comforting thought about physical wounds is that sooner or later they heal. Emotional wounds take longer, and sometimes revisiting certain places can reopen them. I wondered if I was engaging in such an exercise by agreeing to go back to Bloemfontein, the Free State town where my dignity was once stripped from me when I was beaten up in a bar because I’m black. But when I receive the call from DRUM editor Khosi Zwane-Siguqa asking me to revisit the ghost of my past, I jump at the opportunity. The brief is simple – following the recent settlement in the Reitz Four case, have the racial tensions that once prevailed in Bloemfontein subsided? I’m the perfect guy for the job – I was there as a reporter three years ago when racial hostility was at its peak after tension in a university hostel spilled over onto the streets of SA’s legislative capital. I have the scars to prove it. So this trip is a chance for me to exorcise the demons of the past. But as I head towards Bloemfontein I begin to question whether I’ve made the right decision. Am I ready to come face-to-face with those ghosts?

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