RAGES IN NORTH WEST
ne of the farmers accused of killing a 12-year-old boy near the North West town of Coligny was accused five months ago of “jokingly” pushing a black man off his bicycle with his bakkie.
Simon Moremi (60) holds a receipt handed to him by the police after reporting the incident on November 1 last year.
“I was on my way to the farm [where he worked] to get my UIF forms signed. That Pieter [Doorewaard] of Pieter Karsten [his uncle and employer] drove into me with his bakkie as a joke,” he said.
“The white people of Coligny do not take care of our black people.”
Moremi went to the police to report the assault on him. But police spokesperson Happy Masidi confirmed that the case number registered the incident as a traffic accident.
Doorewaard took him to the clinic after the attack, but never fulfilled his promise to replace his bicycle, Moremi said.
Karsten, the owner of several businesses looted in Coligny this week, said he remembered the accident.
He added that his nephew took Moremi to the clinic to show “that he was not injured” and denied that he drove into Moremi intentionally.
This incident, as well as the recent death of another black child in the area for which nobody was arrested, has fuelled the flames of hatred in the small town.
Today marks 11 days that the body of the boy allegedly killed by Doorewaard (27) and his coaccused, Phillip Schutte (34), has lain unclaimed in the government mortuary in nearby Lichtenburg.
His killing sparked violence and destruction this week, and left the town simmering with bitter racial tension.
From religious to political groups, community leaders have been asked to help find his family.
Local school principal Stanley Mnyakama has spent the week combing the area in search of the child’s relatives.
“We have been to Scotland [the informal settlement near where the boy died] many times and we spoke to people there, but no one seemed to know the boy. We have expanded our search to the farms in the area,” said Mnyakama.
“All we have is the name Kabelo Fani, which is written on one of his takkies.”
A young man and woman, who asked not to be named, told City Press on Friday that they were walking in the area towards Scotland when they saw the young boy’s body lying on the ground 11 days ago.
“I did not go any closer to the boy because I can’t take the sight of blood,” the young woman said.
“And after we saw a bakkie with two white men in it make a U-turn a distance away down the road, and drive back to the spot where the boy was, we decided to keep walking.
“We were too scared to stand by and risk being accused of stealing sunflowers.”
By yesterday, the police still had no witness statements, and no official version existed about how the boy died. A postmortem is yet to be conducted.
Residents say the boy and a friend, who is now in witness protection, were found in or near the sunflower field by Doorewaard and Schutte, who allegedly accused them of stealing.
The two farmers, who appeared in court on Friday, reportedly told police that they were taking the children to the police station when the child jumped off the moving bakkie. Black residents, however, believe that the child was beaten.
The bearded Doorewaard and Schutte walked into court and sat crestfallen in the dock as Magistrate Mattheus Lodewikus van Loggerensberg described the young boy’s death as “tragic”.
Van Loggerensberg, a longtime resident of Coligny, recused himself from the case, citing safety concerns for his family. He called for a “neutral” magistrate for “justice to be seen to be done and no perception of bias to exist”. The case was postponed to May 9. On Friday, in the same area in which the boy was killed, two young boys aged 12 and 13 emerged from the same sunflower field, each holding a sunflower. Asked if they knew that a boy their age died there, they were quick to say, while eating the seeds, that they did not steal the sunflowers, but picked them up from the ground.
Numerous black residents of Coligny said they “have had enough of racism”. They protested outside court, demanding the men be denied bail.
Meanwhile, heavily armed white residents continued to guard their properties on Friday, while others went out to clean the town’s only main road, Voortrekker Street.
Cash loan business owner Andries Meintjies said: “I was born here in 1953 but have never seen Coligny like this. I mean, the whole town was almost reduced to rubble in a day.”
Three houses belonging to whites were burnt, along with three trucks and a tractor. Businesses the length of Voortrekker Street were damaged and looted during protests by angry black residents calling for the farmers’ arrests.
“A lot is being said about racism, but some of us don’t see any because our clients are mostly black. I would not support any form of racism and if the accused people are found to be in the wrong, they must be punished accordingly,” Meintjies said.
“The white community is very scared after all the destruction; everyone is concerned and we don’t want the chaos to come back.”
But Festus Modise, a resident of Tlhabologang township, said racism was “alive” in Coligny.
“It is so rife that even black workers in a local supermarket are trained to prioritise white customers over their own black people. All we want is to feel like we are in democratic South Africa and not some island where apartheid still exists,” he said.
FURY Protesters in the North West town of Lichtenburg, near Coligny, barricaded roads and burnt trucks, including a police Nyala, this week, demanding service delivery and housing Harvard University student Mfundo Radebe with his mother, Nobuhle Zwane
UPSET A resident weeps after her home was set alight by an angry mob in Coligny