The presidency is yet to show concern over the Coligny tension which now has turned violent after the Magistrates’ Court granted bail to two men who allegedly killed a black youngster.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) draws the attention of the public on President Jacob Zuma’s silence on the matter, saying its shameful and deafening.
Anger erupted in South Africa’s maize producing town of Coligny after two white farmers namely Pieter Doorewaard, 26, and Philip Schutte, 34 who were accused of murdering a 16-year-old Matlhomola Mosweu, were freed on bail by the town’s magistrate.
The two were granted R5 000 bail each by the Coligny Magistrate’s Court.
Reactions to the court decision have seen more than two houses burnt down while an average of two cars have been petrol- bombed as the residents continue to demonstrate in anger.
A photojournalist was even attacked while trying to take pictures of a farmer’s house which had been torched. While the police fired rubber bullets at protesters who threw stones at them. It is not immediately clear how many protesters were involved.
A police helicopter hovered above the area as officers on the ground engaged in running battles with residents of Tlhabologang township, on the outskirts of the small farming town.
Speaking about the rising Coligny tension and the need for immediate intervention, DA’s Mmusi Maimane on Tuesday expressed his concern at Zuma’s silence while citizens continue to arm themselves.
“At a time like this when leadership is desperately required, it is shameful that President Zuma has thus far failed to speak out or take any action in response to this unfolding crisis,” Maimane said in a statement.
Maimane added that it is incumbent on political leaders in a constitutional democracy to call for calm and to ask all members of the Coligny community to come together and reject any idea of violent reprisal.
He also said that in crisis periods like the one happening in Coligny community leaders ought not to keep mum like Zuma who has “thus far failed to speak out or take any action in response to this unfolding crisis,”
“As political leaders in a constitutional democracy, it is incumbent on us to call for calm and to ask all members of the Coligny community to come together and reject any idea of violent reprisal.”
“Vigilantism, no matter how angry and emotional people may be, is never an appropriate response in our constitutional Democracy. We are a nation of laws, and the law will deliver justice to those who have been aggrieved,” Maimane said.
The DA also calls on the Coligny residents to allow the criminal and legal systems to take their course in order to ensure justice for the late 16-year-old Faki Mosweu.
The Party further stated that the loss of the young life under unexplained circumstances is never easy and will always elicit strong emotions. That said, the destruction of property, racism and physical attacks are not justice.
“I have this morning spoken with Acting National Police Commissioner, General Khomotso Phahlane, and have asked him to ensure that the Police Officers deployed to the area conduct their duties within the parameters of the law to ensure the safety of life and property. Furthermore, those found to be acting unlawfully must be apprehended,” Maimane added.
“General Phahlane indicated that the SAPS will be deploying an additional team from Pretoria to restore calm in the area and that there exists a separate criminal element that has taken advantage of the situation in Coligny,” the DA leader said.
Maimane said it was irresponsible and dangerous for residents of Coligny to attempt to arms themselves. He, however, warned against others planning to join the Coligny tension to with their weapons, and that this course of action could lead to a major violent incident.
“Furthermore, we condemn the actions of those who flame racial tensions in any manner – whether it be on social media or on the ground. The apartheid-era segregation on the basis of race unfolding in Coligny tension is not in keeping with our democratic state, and undermines our humanity.”
The body of the 16-year-old Matlhomola Mosweu was laid to rest on Monday. The accused murderers claimed he died after jumping off the back of their bakkie.