Township is still restless

Simon Nare

Simon Nare

Khutsong means a resting place. But the township has not known peace since last year when the government announced it would be incorporated into North West.

Though peace seems to be gradually returning to the area, one can still almost smell the tension.

Described as a ticking time bomb, it is an uneasy peace because it can explode at the slightest provocation.

When Sowetan visited Khutsong last week, life seemed normal.

Street vendors were going on with their business as usual at a pension pay-point, and the unemployed wandered around aimlessly.

Earlier in the week a protest march against the dismissal of community leader Jomo Mogale fizzled out when police reacted quickly to disperse protesters, mostly young people.

Mogale was fired after the North West education department found him guilty of six charges relating to school boycotts and rioting in the area.

Departmental spokesman Charles Raseala said Mogale was given five days to appeal. By Friday the department had not heard from him or his lawyers.

"His time expired on Friday. So far, we have no information whether he has filed an appeal or not," said Raseala.

The scars of the months-long protests are still visible in the area. Roads are littered with stones and damaged robots. Torched classrooms bear testimony to the unrest.

Houses belonging to some councillors were also burnt down.

Police are on a 24-hour routine patrol in the area.

As resident William Maila put it: "Yes, you could say everything is back to normal. But it's not the same because we feel we have been dumped."

Police in the area believe normality has returned with few protests in the past few weeks.

People are unfriendly towards the media, accusing it of misrepresenting the truth.

Residents are still vehemently opposed to the incorporation. Their legal route to stay in Gauteng has now landed in the constitutional court and the matter is to be heard on September 28.

"If we lose at the constitutional court we will have to sit down and plan where to from there," Maila said.