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Reconciliation forum elected to heal cracked race relations in Coligny

COLIGNY, May 10 (ANA) – A Reconciliation, Healing and Renewal Forum (RHR) was elected in Coligny on Wednesday, in an attempt to bring peace and stability following violent protests.

“The aim of the forum is to address community conflict, xenophobia, racial tension and other issues. The healing process in Coligny has started,” said Tebogo Ramashilebele, Reconciliation, Healing and Renewal director, after he addressed a well attended community meeting in Tlhabologang.

Coligny made headlines after a violent mass protest erupted on April 24, following the death of 16-year-old Matlhomola Jonas Mosweu from the Scotland informal settlement.

Mosweu was allegedly killed by two farmers, Pieter Doorewaard, 26, and Phillip Schutte, 34, in what locals believed was a racial motivated killing.

The two claimed they caught him stealing sunflower at their employer’s sunflower crop field near the informal settlement. They ordered him to get at the back of a van intending to hand him to the police 3km away but, he jumped out of a moving van and sustained neck injuries. He later died on his way to hospital.

An eyewitness told the police Mosweu was thrown out of the van driven by Doorewaard while it was in motion.

The incident sparked mass protest that left three houses and three trucks burnt, several shops mostly owned by Pieter Karsten, Doorewaard’s uncle and the employer of the two were looted and damaged.

The angry residents demanded the arrest of the two. The protest stopped once the two handed themselves to the police on April 25.

The community demonstrated a the Coligny Magistrate’s Court on April 28 when they appeared for the first time demanding that they should not be granted bail.

Renewed violence flared up on May 8, when they were granted R5000 bail each.

Furious community members torched a house, and a stand-off ensued between them and farmers who came to rescue the house. The farmers attacked and pointed journalists with firearm, in few minutes two more houses were gutted by the fire.

Enraged farmers stormed into two and pointed firearms at protesters who were heading home from court. The protesters armed themselves with rocks fearlessly approached the heavy armed farmers.

The police stepped in and a blood bath was averted.

On Tuesday, a high level meeting attended by the police, farmers, business people, religious, community leaders as well as leaders of the protest agreed on a five-point plan to restore stability and order.

On Wednesday, Coligny was calm, a move Ramashilebele said was an indication of healing racial tension.

“The meeting agreed that from tomorrow [Thursday] children will go to school,” he said.

Schools have been closed since learners were forcefully removed from classrooms to join the protest.

North West premier Supra Mahumapelo was expected to speak to residents on Friday.

– African News Agency (ANA)