Tunatazama - Community Monitors

The Story about Phomolong’s Hugest Protest

by Phello AKA PJ

I can’t remember the date but it was in 2005 March. The residents of Phomolong had a strike about service delivery. It started as a small one but ended up big. This was one of the biggest protests I’ve ever seen till today. People were singing and the meeting was held and the community was told that there will be no school and no work but people managed to go to work and we also went to school. I was doing grade 11, I was bored that the strike didn’t go on which meant I had to go to school, you know how school kids can be like.

When we were busy being taught we heard people singing. It was the community coming to fetch us learners. They entered the school yards and ordered the learners to get out of their classes. It became wild and all of us were in the streets singing. Later that afternoon the meeting was held and we were told that there will be no school and work. It was agreed that at 3 o’clock in the morning all comrades must meet to close down the streets so that no taxi will deliver people to work. I was 1 of those people who woke up at 3 o’ clock to close down the roads. This time around it was successful and people did not go to work and no schools were progressing.

During midday as I was walking I saw people carrying 10 kg’s of flour,maize meal, rice etc. When I got close to where this was happening the community vandalised the Bangladesh’s shops and everyone was taking everything they wanted. I came in and took airtime and cigarettes. It happened all over the location. All Bangladesh shops were vandalised and police were called from neighbouring towns and even from provincial. They patrolled all over the location and shot residents, threw teargas sprays. This became a war between police and the community.

They threw stones at the police and even made “ketis” (sling shots) to shoot the police and one police officer was killed because they threw stones at him. Konelo Lekgafola a journalist from Lesedi fm(SABC) came to cover the story and it was unfortunate that they threw on the car he was driving(the SABC car) and broke its windows and windscreens. When it was at night the community would switch off the lights(Apollos) and threw stones at the police and many of them were injured, they wanted Bank Tshabangu who was the councillor at the time to resign with immediate effect.

Serake Leeuw was the executive mayor of Matjhabeng at that time and he came and addressed the community that the councillor cannot be recalled, they swore at him and demanded that he leaves Phomolong premises and the premier  Beatrice Marshoff came to Phomolong and the media SABC and E-tv were there. They also demanded that the bucket system be banned. When the premier arrived the bucket toilets were displayed at the stadium full of faeces just infront of the podium. The community became wild and swore at Marshoff.

It was the first time I saw a premier crying infront of the community. They all left and destructed the whole meeting and the councillor resigned because they wanted to burn him alive.


GUBICO is a community based organisation in Free State Province receiving sharing and learning training via Monitoring School from the Bench Marks Foundation Monitoring Project.

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