'SA needs to atone for the blood of our ancestors'
Gauteng group vows to up the ante until the president deals with the generational ills visited upon Khoisan descendants
If they get this one wrong, they’re doomed for life.
Underscoring their need to be heard and acknowledged, the Gauteng Shutdown Coloured Coordinating Committee’s (GSCC) Anthony Williams told Times Select they have this one opportunity to have their voices heard. Hence the unpleasant sight of burning tyres and barricaded roads will not be seen in the townships anymore, as organisers of a campaign seeking redress for coloured communities take their battle to the powerhouses’ doorstep.
Williams condemned the destruction of property. “In the end it is the community that feels the pain.”
The GSCC said the impact of their planned rolling mass action should be felt by those whose attention they were seeking.
Their intention was to intensify their programmes every week until President Cyril Ramaphosa gave them an audience.
“They look at us and celebrate when we shut down our own areas and burn tyres ... they go on with their normal lives and play golf because they feel no impact. We’ll go to strategic places and we’ll knock them silly,” Williams said. “They can remain aloof or test our resolve. We’re coming for them”.
The group’s march to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Tuesday was aimed at calling for the inclusion of coloured people in SA’s economic policies and economic activities.
“If they don’t come to us, we’re going to them.”
The campaign was ignited following violent protests in Westbury last week, following the fatal shooting of Heather Petersen in the crossfire of a suspected gang-related gun battle. Williams and others believe the problems with violence, drugs and gangs in predominantly coloured areas go much deeper than they seem.
In the name of those whose blood was shed in the struggle against apartheid and violence linked to drugs and gangs, among others, as well as those Williams described as “our ancestors, the Khoisan”, another march, termed Blood Friday, will be held in Johannesburg on Friday.
“The blood of our ancestors, the indigenous people, is calling. South Africa has yet to atone that blood. We’ll meet at Mary Fitzgerald Square at 9am on Friday where a prayer session and a cleansing ceremony will be held,” he said.
“We’ll then make our first stop at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature where we’ll deliver our letter of demand, then the premier’s office.”
Williams said their demands were around the competence of national government.
“There will be a programme crafted for very single week until we meet President Cyril Ramaphosa. We’re going to sustain the offensive against the president until he comes to us.”
Williams failed to understand why coloured people were “sidelined and living as forgotten communities” when they had equally played a role in the struggle against apartheid.
A strong believer that coloured people are descendants of the Khoisan, Williams referred to Nelson Mandela’s words in his book, Conversation with Myself: “These are the men who strove for a free South Africa long before we reached the field. They blazed the trail and it is their joint efforts that supply the source of the vast stream of South African history.”
Williams said that, instead, communities are excluded from development, empowerment and many other government programmes.
“I grew up in Riverlea ... one of the townships so close to the city and surrounded by gold mine dumps, but yet we had no electricity. I had to wake up early in the morning, make the fire and prepare boiling water for my parents to bath, and I studied for my matric by candlelight,” he said.
“People just criticise us and our battle for proper recognition of our real identity and inclusion without knowing the context of our struggle, saying we were not even involved in the struggle against apartheid. If only they knew. I know how it feels to have an apartheid security police officer unleashing a heavy slap on me.”
He said people became so cosy at the dawn of democracy that they left people behind, and now they turn a deaf ear.
The “time is now” for them to fight their battle to the end. “The time has passed when people were okay with being referred to as coloured and Bushmen in their absence. We have inherited the pain, anger and hatred infused from generation to generation.
“What you see in the Cape Flats, Westbury and many other areas is a manifestation of anger, resentment and bitterness which was not dealt with in the new South Africa. Being coloured comes with bitter experience ... here is a generational curse that was not dealt with properly.”
Williams said they will not rest until they have reached their goal.
“If we get this one wrong, we’re doomed for life and no one will ever be able to sort us out. We have to get it right now and we’re determined to ... we’re not going to rest until we’re heard and things are corrected.”