An EFF march against racism in the troubled town of Coligny ended earlier today but not without drama after a white woman tried to “apologise” to the group and received a hostile welcome.
The woman who later identified herself as Tash Botha had asked to see party leader Julius Malema, who was not present at the march.
She could later be heard saying to the group: “Verskoon julle ons asseblief [forgive us please] ...we all lived in harmony before this accident. Just few people have caused this problems and now we all find ourselves in this bad situation.”
It appeared EFF supporters were not impressed that a white woman was asking to see their leader and would not entertain her appeal for white residents of Coligny to be forgiven because “not all of us are bad and responsible for this problem”.
Insults were hurled at her but she would not let it go, talking back and pointing. Her eyes looked teary.
When hostility escalated between the woman and some party members, police intervened. She was pulled away by a number of police officers, albeit with resistance, as she shouted repeatedly: “I have freedom of speech” and “I am not angry with them, just let me go”.
The woman was taken to the police station after officers convinced her that she was being taken away “for your own safety”.
Botha later told City Press that she had gone to the march to see Malema.
“I wanted to see him because he is a leader ... I would have asked him for his party’s T-shirt, worn it and marched with them to show that we’re not happy at all about what is happening in our town. We need our peace and harmony back,” she said.
“The EFF people got angry when I asked them why were they here and marching when their leader was not there. I was not there to cause any trouble at all ... we all want peace and unity.”
When the drama was over, it was back to the business of the day for the EFF supporters.
The party marched on the local police station where they handed over a memorandum in which they called for the state to appeal the court’s decision to grant bail to Phillip Schutte and Pieter Doorewaard, who are accused of killing 16-year-old Matlhomola Moshoeu by throwing him off a moving bakkie on April 20.
The two men’s version to the court was that the boy had jumped off the vehicle after he was apprehended for stealing sunflowers from their boss’s fields.
The case plunged Coligny into chaos and several houses were burnt down and shops looted amid escalating racial tension. The violence soared after the two men were freed on bail.
It later emerged that there were several other cases involving the mysterious deaths of black people, whose bodies were found at one of the farms in the area. Police were yet to clarify the status of the cases, which were registered as inquests.
“We will not rest until these cases have been re-opened and investigated. Someone has to answer for those deaths,” said EFF North West leader Papiki Babuile.
“We will continue to put pressure on the police to revisit those cases and on the National Prosecuting Authority to appeal the bail decision of the two white men.”