The farming town of Lichtenburg in the North West has once again erupted into chaos following a protest that resulted in a 15-year-old being shot dead and two others injured.
It is believed that a motorist had started shooting at a throng of protesters when he could not get through a barricaded road in Blydeville township, Lichtenburg.
Community members who spoke to City Press telephonically insisted that the alleged shooter was white and that this has escalated the anger in the area.
The Lichtenburg incident is similar to the death of a teenager earlier this year in the nearby town of Coligny, 25 kilometres away, which fuelled racial tentions. Matlhomola Mosweu died allegedly at the hands of two white men who accused him of stealing sunflowers from their boss’s farm. This led to widespread, violent protests.
Today’s incident happened shortly after a truck was burnt in the early hours of the morning.
There was no confirmation that the alleged shooter was white. Police only said they knew who the “suspect” was.
North West police said the “driver of a white car fired shots at the protesters near Sukran [shops] at approximately 8am”.
“Following the alleged shooting incident, a 15-year old boy was certified dead on the scene while two other persons, whose ages are not yet confirmed, were injured.” said police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone.
“Investigations into the matter continue and although the suspect is not yet arrested, he is known and the police are working hard to ensure that he is brought to book.”
Earlier this year, Mosweu’s death led to widespread violent protests, which left shops looted and several houses torched.
Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte, who were accused of killing Mosweu appeared briefly in the Coligny Magistrates’ Court on Friday. The case was transferred to the high court.
Residents of Blydeville, who spoke to City Press, said they were worried the recent incident could spark the same violence.
North West police commissioner Lieutenant-General Baile Motswenyane has urged protesters to refrain from damaging property or taking the law into their own hands.
“We would like to urge members of the community to remain calm and allow the police to conduct investigation of both incidents. We also want to make it clear that no violence will be tolerated and the police will not hesitate to act against any person who disrespects the rule of law,” Motswenyane said.
Meanwhile, a community leader in Blydeville township, Philip Lottering, said the decision was taken to return to the streets after a task team of five MECs appointed by Premier Supra Mahumapelo in April failed to deliver on promises to look into their service delivery grievances.
The community needs a high school, 24-hour clinic and houses.
The task team was set up following a wave of protests that swept through the area in April. In these protests at least one truck full of live chickens and a police Nyala were torched.
Six months later, Lottering said: “The community members feel they have been lied to by the task team, which addressed them and made all the promises. They decided to go back and demand answers and action and now a boy has been killed.”
Attempts to get comment from Mahumapelo’s spokesperson, Brian Setswambung, yielded no results as his phone rang unanswered. He had also not replied to an SMS from City Press at the time of publishing this story.
The situation was reportedly still tense following running battles between police and protesters, while roads remain barricaded with rubble and burning tyres.