Coligny boy died jumping off moving bakkie, businessman says

2017-04-26 18:26
Shops have been looted and damaged in Coligny, North West province. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Shops have been looted and damaged in Coligny, North West province. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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2017-04-26 16:22

Coligny resident Diana Swart has lost her rental home, and everything inside it, after protesters torched it on Tuesday during violent riots in the area. Watch. WATCH

Mahikeng - The 12-year-old Coligny boy who died after allegedly being caught stealing sunflowers broke his neck jumping off a moving bakkie, a local businessman said on Wednesday.

Pieter Karsten, 48, told News24 his nephew was one of the men arrested for the murder, which led to the protests breaking out in the North West farming town. Residents claimed the death was racially motivated.

Karsten said he had advised his nephew and another man to hand themselves over to police.

Also read: Woman watches as home is petrol bombed by Coligny protesters

Police spokesperson Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone said the two men, aged 26 and 33, would appear in the Coligny Magistrate's Court on Friday.

"Before last week, no-one knew who this boy was," Karsten said in his empty garage. It was one of the businesses on the town's main road, Voortrekker Street, that was looted and damaged during protests this week.

"Who would hit a 12-year-old child? That's typical political propaganda, that's all that it is. Now the whole community is up in arms because of this boy's death. He died of a broken neck, not of being hit."

Sunflower theft

According to Karsten, two boys were caught stealing sunflowers last week. Two farmers, including his nephew, told them to get on their bakkie so they could take them to police.

One boy allegedly ran off, but had since told police his version. Karsten said the other boy voluntarily got onto the bakkie.

"When they slowed down around the bend, close to the black township, he realised that they were slowing down and he jumped off the bakkie."

Karsten said they called an ambulance.

He said the violence that erupted was due to external political factors and misinformation about what happened. He said police had let residents down by failing to protect them.

"The people from the townships love our town, but the people that instructed them and threatened them for action is not community people. There were buses with people that were transported into town. Those buses were loaded with liquor, and loaded with everything that was looted."

Karsten said he grew up in Coligny and had been operating the family business there for the past 20 years.

He was at the police station watching the protestors march up the street into town on Monday. A police officer told him to move his car and he instructed his other businesses to lock up and closed his garage.

Clean-up

"It's very difficult to say how much we have lost. Our liquor store has been vandalised and looted. Our hotel has been vandalised and looted; all the windows have been broken. All the plate glass has been broken. Everything has been stolen and broken, so we've incurred huge losses," he said.

Another businessman, Adam Ssebunya said the protests began peacefully and turned violent. He realised his shoe and clothing store had been looted when he saw people making their way down the street carrying goods from his store. He estimated he lost almost R120 000 worth of inventory.

On Wednesday, police were still doing the rounds in the town, as business owners and residents cleaned litter, rocks, and broken glass from the streets and assessed the damage to their properties.

By afternoon, most shops remained locked, the windows broken, and completely empty.  

Read more on:    mahikeng  |  protests

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