The ANC Youth League’s march against racism did not only bring Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria, to a standstill yesterday, three surrounding townships were also on lockdown, with people barred from leaving.
At 6am yesterday, foot soldiers started barricading main roads in Zithobeni, Rethabiseng and Ekangala prior to the march to the town bordering Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
Youth league leader Fidel Phiri said the aim was to ensure everyone participated.
“Otherwise business would have gone on as usual in town. Every struggle has its casualties and we apologise for the inconvenience,” he said.
He said the march was a success. It was peaceful and the message was clear – “we can shut you down!”
Security company GE Secure’s signage was ripped off the walls of businesses and private properties and mounted on makeshift crosses that were carried on the march. Even the town’s magistrate’s court took no chances and shut its doors.
The wrath was sparked by an incident in which security officer Charlie Mabuza was allegedly roughed up, stripped and forced to walk half-naked in the rain by his supervisor on New Year’s Day.
The Sowetan newspaper reported that Mabuza was found asleep and tested positive for alcohol consumption while on the job at a factory in Ekandustria, which provoked the alleged attack.
Nomvula Kgomo, a resident, said racist incidents in the town were rife.
“We have been quiet for too long. Now we are saying, if you are a racist or support racist businesses, you must get out of Bronkhorstpruit,” she said.
Kgomo said too many people had died in the past for black people to continue to be treated with indignity, adding that incidents like that involving Mabuza were indicative of resistance to change.
Another resident, Bongani Magagula, cited recent incidents in which a nine-year-old girl was allegedly tied to a tree and shot at and another in which a man allegedly raped a domestic worker before letting his dog have sex with her.
“Not again. We are not going to let this continue. Everything that smacks of racism must stop,” he said.