Only way to success is to leave Coligny

This is the Welcoming sign of Coligny in the North West province after a haevy rain on the 23rd March 2006, this is one of many ghost towns in South Africa. Picture:Tiro Ramatlhatse
This is the Welcoming sign of Coligny in the North West province after a haevy rain on the 23rd March 2006, this is one of many ghost towns in South Africa. Picture:Tiro Ramatlhatse

Black residents of Coligny, in North West, where the death of a teenager sparked violent protests recently, rely on white-owned farms for work.

Matlhomola Mosweu, 16, died allegedly after being thrown off a moving bakkie by two farmers who accused him of stealing sunflower seeds.

The protests by black residents first erupted when police initially failed to arrest the suspects. Businesses in town and other white-owned property were attacked in the violence that shocked the country.

The violent protests continued after Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte were granted bail last week.

The events have deepened the area's racial divisions.

The 134 farms in the area are owned by whites and many black people who live in Tlhabologang township and Scotland informal settlement depend on the farms for work.

"We are a very poor community. The highest level of education that a black child can get here is a matric certificate and then they go and work on farms or in retail as cashiers," said a teacher at Thuto-Mmelegi Primary School who asked not to be named.

"The only way for them to get any success in life is to leave Coligny and get better education and employment elsewhere."

Another resident, Susan Mosiatlhaga who runs Fountain of Hope, an NGO that supports abused women in Tlhabologang, said poverty was directly linked to social ills gripping the black community.

"Many people are unemployed and they use alcohol and drugs to deal with their frustrations. This extends to abuse or trafficking of women.

"We deal with five rape cases a month," said Mosiatlhaga.

Kutloano Ntwagae, 15, who spoke to us with the permission of her parents, said most children from her community of Scotland walk long distances to get to their schools in town. Two weeks ago an eight-year-old girl was raped on her way to school.

"We now walk in groups of four or five to be safe," she said.

Kutloano lives with her parents and four siblings in a two-roomed shack.

The family survives on her father's salary and child support grants for her four siblings.

Scotland has no running water and residents travel to Tlhabologang to get water.

Ditsobotla municipal spokesman Pius Batsile said: "We came up with a contingency plan for water last week.

"It's the district's [function] but as the municipality we could not just sit back and do nothing. We have diverted some pipes and now they are getting water supply. It's a temporary solution, until we can get a long-lasting solution."

Bats ile, however, said Scotland would not get electricity yet as "we are still relocating people in that area".

Meanwhile, there was a sense of hopelessness from the white businessmen who were trying to rebuild their businesses after the looting and damage during the protests over Mosweu's death.

But one can't ignore the subtle exclusion that white businesses in town portray. One bar with white males inside had a notice written "Members Only", "to guard against the crowds because this place used to be a tavern before," the owner said

He then changed his story saying the notice was there because he intended to start a loyalty programme for his regular customers.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.