After being accused of stealing sunflowers from a local farm, 16-year-old Motlhomola Mosweu was put into the back of a bakkie by Pieter Doorewaard, 26, and Phillip Schutte, 34, to be taken to the police station.
However, on their way, Mosweu allegedly jumped out of the van and suffered neck injuries, dying a short while later.
His death has sparked a mass protest, leaving a trail of destruction in the small North West town of Coligny last week, when “three houses and three trucks were torched, while several shops were looted and damaged,” reports IOL.
You see, the residents didn’t believe Mosweu had jumped, and an eyewitness had stated that the accused had pushed him out.
But why such rife violence? To find out just what set off the protests last week, TimesLive sent journalists Alon Skuy and Shenaaz Jamal to the town to see just what it is that goes on – and immediately they got “a sense that the town is stuck in an apartheid time warp”.
The two then conducted a series of “tests” based on information they had received, and what they found was chilling. Here’s the first:
“If a black child dies, that’s OK.” These were the words of Ouma Tsele, one of the first people I encountered when visiting the one-horse town of Coligny, in North West.
Black residents, it was apparent, were afraid to talk about race matters but told chilling stories of segregation at local businesses.
Tsele challenged me to try an experiment at the local pharmacist where, she said, blacks were not allowed to speak on their cellphones.
We decided to test her theory by sending The Times photographer Alon Skuy into Taljaard Chemists. He asked for painkillers and spoke on his cellphone in the shop for several minutes.
We then asked a black resident, Nelson Moloko, to do the same.
‘They gave him alcohol and walked him to the dam at gun point’: Coligny murder investigator tells court of alleged threats to key witness
Within seconds of answering my call to his cellphone, he was kicked out of the shop, along with a black woman, without explanation.
The shop was immediately locked and two heavily-armed security guards stood watch.
Moloko advised us to leave immediately.
The pharmacist later told The Times that he did not want to comment on allegations of racism.
The second test involved queues at the local OK supermarket reserved separately for black and white customers:
Resident Tebogo Matshila said he had been chased out of the “white” supermarket queue and placed in a “black” one.
When I bought bottled water and chocolate at the OK and wanted to pay, two white cashiers suddenly closed their tills and directed me to the kiosk, operated by a black woman. A few minutes later, one of the white cashiers re-opened their till to assist a white woman.
I wondered whether it was just a coincidence or racism.
However, Matshila says that the apartheid style town is so normal to them.
But there was more. From separate waiting rooms at the doctor with preference given to white patients, to employees being forced to speak Afrikaans over English, residents of the town are aware of the tension.
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