The people of Qolweni have for many years urged Bitou Municipality to give us sites for houses.
Our aim was to save our government a lot of money, as they said in 1994: the government is governed by the people and those who can afford to build houses for themselves, must do so. Not all South Africans need free everything from our government.
There are so many poor people in this community who really need help. There are very old people who have been here for over 30 years, waiting and waiting for houses.
So I urge all of us in Plettenberg Bay to work together with the people of Qolweni. Remember, the riots don’t only affect us, it affects everyone in the Greater Plett.
We must stop pointing fingers. We must all stand up and once again make our small town the place to be. Love, sharing, and working together can rebuild our trust and our economy.
Let’s show South Africa that nothing is impossible. It’s time to build a bright future for the next generation.
Remember, without involving the colour of our skin and politics, we are all human, so let’s bring back our humanity.
Your child is my child; losing a child is very painful and sad, and even worse when you live in an informal settlement where you can afford to build a house, but you’re not allowed to.
I write this letter from the bottom of my heart. Let’s stand together - I know we can do it.
I thank you and wish a happy season for us all, but please be safe. Covid-19 is still living with us, so sanitise, wear your mask, and take care.
Selina Mgijima, Plett
(Karin Bass shared this letter, penned by her employee Selina Mgijima in the aftermath of the Qolweni riots. Karin wrote: “Selina is a smart, friendly, caring person and we have a lot of respect for her. The riots affected her deeply, as it did so many lives in Qolweni.
“During the four days of demonstrations, a fire destroyed her sister’s house as well as the house of her sister’s neighbours, who tragically lost their 17-year-old son in the fire. Their little daughter was also badly burnt and at the time of writing, was fighting for her life in a Cape Town hospital.”
CXPRESS learnt that the fire was caused by an electrical fault and not by the riots, but the situation added to the family’s distress: with no emergency personnel prepared to enter the conflict area, the bereft parents were told to wait until morning before a forensic team would collect their son’s remains.
Selina’s letter was partly inspired by this traumatic experience. - Eds.)