Coligny Protest: Coligny is a small town situated between Lichtenburg and Johannesburg in North West Province of the country.
The town is well known for the production of maize and inhabiting hundreds of maize farmers. The town was once known as Treurfontein – which literally means spring of sadness in Afrikaans.
Coligny was renamed after a Huguenot leader called Gaspard de Coligny on July 23, 1923. De Coligny was murdered in 1572 in the Massacre of St Bartholomew.
The recent Coligny protest, which has cost residents- especially business owners millions of rand was birthed by the death of a 17-year-old boy Matlhomola Jonas Mosweu of Scotland informal settlement in Coligny on April 20.
Mosweu died after he was allegedly pushed off from a moving bakkie by two white men Pieter Doorewaard (26) and Phillip Schutte (34).
The accused claimed that the teen was caught red-handed stealing sunflowers at their employer’s field near the informal settlement and that he jumped off the moving bakkie and broke his neck while they were taking him to the police.
However, a State eyewitness contradicted their claims and testified that the men threw Matlhomola out of the moving van. He died later on his way to the hospital.
The teen’s father Sakkie Dingake learned about his death while he was in church. He identified the body of his son in a picture showed to him and confirmed that he has been looking for him for two weeks.
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An autopsy was later conducted to determine the cause of Mathlomola’s death and he was subsequently buried on Sunday.
Five Facts You Need To Know
A Strong Feud Has Existed Between Black And White People In The Town For Decades
For years, white men and women living in the town don’t see eye to eye. An account from a black woman in the area indicated that black people in the town were subjected to lesser human beings by their white employers. And it has always been that way for long but events took a different path after the teen was killed.
The Killing Of The 17-Year-Old Triggered The Recent Racial Tension In The Town
Following the death of Mathlomola Mosweu, most businesses – including those owned by white farmers – have been closed. Last week, several shops were looted by disgruntled residents who went on a rampage calling for justice.
Just half an hour after the two white farmers were granted bail for the alleged murder, some residents reportedly launched an attack on the Rietvlei maize farm – which is on the outskirts of the remote town.
The Case Against The Duo Has Been Postponed Until June 26, When They Are Expected To Appear In Court
After long-drawn-out considerations, Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte were granted bail of R5,000 each by Magistrate Magaola Foso. They reportedly handed themselves to the police about two weeks ago.
Foso buttressed that the public interest in the case made the bail process very hectic. The North West farmers will return to court on 26 June. The two had no previous convictions and no pending cases.
The teen’s father Dingake was upset about the bail decision.
“What about my child?” he asked.
Residents Booed Government Officials Out Of A Town Meeting Held To End The Coligny Protest
Violence in the town inflated after the Court granted the accused bail, leading even to Coligny residents disregarding a meeting by provincial government and farmers union to resolve the current impasse.
The embarrassed officials were left with no option but to quietly leave the meeting hall. They subsequently took to the streets again on Tuesday afternoon and closed the major N14 Highway – which links Litchenburg and Coligny. They called for the accused to be re-arrested and placed back in custody.
The Violence Led To The Disappearance Of Most White Community Members
Following the touching of three farmhouses, several white community members were seen loading their important goods and leaving the town on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo has announced that a “Reconciliation, Healing and Renewal Forum” is being established in Coligny.
He said the forum will comprise of stakeholders in Coligny and will strive to bring lasting peace and stability through the programs that will constitute part of the forum.
School pupils have also missed school since the Coligny protest erupted.
Another crucial point, (a pathetic one, if I must say anyway), is that Coligny is best described as South Africa’s ‘forgotten’ town with ‘no trace’ of modernization or civilization.