Coligny, a small rural town in the North West, is undergoing a much needed makeover. The town became infamous in April last year when furious residents of the nearby Thlabologang and Scotland settlements looted its CBD and set various houses alight, following the death of 15-year-old Mathlomola Mosweu.
He died after having sustained a fatal fall from a bakkie, allegedly at the hands of two white men.
South Africa Day, an NGO with the aim to revamp the many dilapidated rural towns across the country decided to start in Coligny as its flagship project, with the long term vision of positioning it as a popular agricultural and tourism hub in the province.
Local reverend Tewie Pieters, established Coligny Peace Forum to reconcile the town’s people. He decided to take action, and get the town back on its feet.
“I started painting this little building… the Waenhuis… and the first guy stop here and ask: ‘why do you do that’? And I say: ‘look how is our town. It’s very bad and I just want to start somewhere with one wall. I say the next wall is that pink one down the street…’ and the now cooperation then phoned and said I could get 20 litres of paint. And that was the beginning and now there are a lot of people involved.”
South Africa Day decided that Coligny was perfect to launch its project.
“The different racial and cultural groups must work together. And therefore we decided that Coligny as a result of what happened last year… would be a good example of reconciliation… to unite people and to restore that relationship between the different groups,” said Chief Operating Officer at South Africa Day, Barend La Grange.
Cleaning, Planting, Painting and Restoring are the four pillars of the project. Eighty trees have been planted so far, buildings have been painted, windows repaired and potholes fixed.
Thlabologang is also being cleaned and residents are happy with the progress.
“Right now… they see there is a change. A lot of people… they were crying about racism. But now they feel free. You’ll see… after that thing of Mathlomola… when white people come here it was a problem. But right now they are free. Nobody is standing when they see the car of the white people,” said Coligny Peace Forum, Elbla Lemotlo.
Coligny is situated along a busy route to Botswana and Namibia.
Experts from North West University’s town planning and art faculties, are also providing their input, with the long term vision of making this town a popular tourism and agricultural hub in the province.