MEC pledges help to boy’s grieving family but calm still eludes Coligny

Police on patrol in Tlhabologang township near Coligny. Picture: Tebogo Letsie
Police on patrol in Tlhabologang township near Coligny. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

Attempts by the North West government officials to quell fires in Coligny failed to restore total calm to the troubled small farming town.

Traffic flow continued to be affected and cars were pelted with stones on the road connecting Lichtenburg and Coligny.

Police tried to keep stone-throwers away from the road but they would retreat and start pelting cars from behind the houses in Tlhabologang township’s RDP houses settlement.

The traffic disruptions started after the community showed no interest in listening to community safety MEC Mpho Motlhabane.

He addressed the community earlier in the day but his speech was disrupted. In his brief address he urged residents to respect the court verdict – the two men accused of the death of Matlhomola Moshoeu were granted bail on Monday – and allow schooling, which had come to a halt in the area, to resume.

Residents, however, would not have none of it and vowed to continue with their protest action until the court had somehow revoked its bail decision. All they wanted was the two men back behind bars but Magistrate Makgaola Foso said on Monday that his decision was in the interest of the law.

He also said the state’s version of events was based on “hearsay” from a witness who might come to court and refute it.

Motlhabane addressed the media at a local library after having to leave the original meeting spot. He said the North West government was willing to help the deceased boy’s grieving parents even if it meant securing an appeal.

The violent protest was triggered by Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte being granted R5 000 bail. The men were accused of throwing Moshoeu out of a moving bakkie after they allegedly found him stealing sunflower from their boss’s fields.

The incident led to racial tension in which at least three houses and several vehicles were torched by angry residents. They started calling for the two men’s arrest more than a week ago.

Shops were looted and damaged in the violent protests, which stopped after the pair handed themselves over to the police.

Moments after they were granted bail, the community’s anger was ignited again, leading to three houses being torched in the area.

Today was the second day this week in which socioeconomic activities in Coligny were on shutdown. While it was relatively calm in town, elsewhere in the township police continued to keep groups of residents away from white-owned properties, including farms and businesses.

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