Police incompetence is blamed for fuelling racial tensions in the North West.
Residents of Majakaneng accuse police of shielding a white farmer they believe is linked to the disappearance of Tebogo Ndlovu.
Ndlovu was last seen on August 2 in the company of two friends.
Thabiso Shole was part of the trio and claims Ndlovu was shot by the farmer while they were stealing oranges on his farm. The 24-year-old has not been seen ever since.
The incident sparked weeks of violent protests in the area as Majakaneng residents demanded an arrest and information leading into Ndlovu’s whereabouts.
“The police are failing us. It’s been a month and they have not given us any update on the case. They are protecting the farmer because he is white‚” said Ndlovu’s aunt‚ Nancy Sekgobela.
“Since they can’t solve this case‚ we will do it ourselves. We are tired of waiting for them. The farmer knows what happened to Tebogo‚ so they must hand him to us. He will tell us where he buried Tebogo or we will bury him.”
The anger is palpable in Majakaneng. It is reminiscent of what happened in Coligny‚ another North West town less than 200km away‚ where similar protests broke out after two white men were accused earlier this year of murdering a black teenager because he stole sunflowers from a farm.
Police in Majakaneng have opened a missing person’s inquiry and are investigating a case of attempted murder.
Nobody has been arrested. A police search operation has been conducted at the farm and blood stains were discovered. Forensic tests have not yet revealed if the sample came from a human or an animal.
“The matter is under investigation. Unfortunately we can’t discuss the matter with the media but people can rest assured that police are taking this case seriously. Let’s give the police a chance to do their job‚” said police spokesman Sabata Mokgwabone.
Majakaneng protesters previously blocked the R104‚ R566‚ R108 and other major routes during the unrest. Two delivery trucks and a bakkie were torched. Two people were arrested for public violence but charges have been dropped.
The community marched to Mooinooi police station on August 23. They gave authorities a notice that the situation will escalate if there are no developments in Ndlovu’s case. They gave police a deadline of seven days.
Majakaneng community leaders said they have not received word from the police and are planning on a way forward.
Uncertainty is mounting among nearby farmers‚ who fear retribution. Citrus farmer Marius Gouws is among those who believe the police have failed to contain criminal elements associated with the Majakaneng protest. He said the situation has caused serious economic damage to both farmers and workers.
“It’s like living with a sword over your head all the time. You don’t know what will happen or when it’s going to happen. It’s been peaceful so far but if the police allow them to block the roads again‚ I will be affected‚” Gouws said.
“If they keep them inside (Majakaneng) that is fine. They can throw and kill each other as much as they like.”
Majakaneng is an under-resourced community that provides a big chunk of workers to a number of farms in the province. The area has a mix of shacks and brick houses. Substance abuse is one of the challenges faced by this community.
“What I can’t understand is how a small group of people get it right to upset a whole economic community. They stop the N4. Block R104. How can the government allow a small group of people to upset the economy like that?” Gouws said.
Gouws said his farm was vandalised during the protests. He has been in the farming business for more than 20 years and it’s the first time he feels threatened.
Jacob van Peeren said local farmers sympathise with the affected families. He said police must handle Ndlovu’s case because it has the potential to racially divide the community.
“For some people they might feel revengeful because a farmer killed one of us‚ now farmers are bad. But they must realise it was an incident and we don’t agree with it at all. We must find the facts. But‚ based on the history‚ this is not good for farmer-worker relationships‚” Van Peeren said.
Van Peeren suggested that the police must establish a forum involving Majakaneng leaders and local farmers to provide daily updates on Ndlovu’s case and calm the situation.
Source: TMG Digital.