DA leader Mmusi Maimane. File picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/ANA Pictures
Johannesburg – Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane on Tuesday expressed his concern at reports of groups of citizens arming themselves in violence-torn Coligny and said that President Jacob Zuma's silence was deafening and shameful.

"At a time like this when leadership is desperately required, it is shameful that President Zuma has thus far failed to speak out or take any action in response to this unfolding crisis," Maimane said in a statement.

"As political leaders in a Constitutional Democracy, it is incumbent on us to call for calm and to ask all members of the Coligny community to come together and reject any idea of violent reprisal."

Black Coligny community members were up in arms after 16-year-old Faki Mosweu died after he allegedly fell off the back of a bakkie after he was caught stealing a sunflower by two white men.

"Vigilantism, no matter how angry and emotional people may be, is never an appropriate response in our Constitutional Democracy. We are a nation of laws, and the law will deliver justice to those who have been aggrieved," Maimane said.

"As the DA, we call upon the community of Coligny to allow the criminal and legal systems to take their course in order to ensure justice for the late 16-year-old Faki Mosweu. The loss of a young life under unexplained circumstances is never easy and will always elicit strong emotions. That said, the destruction of property, racism and physical attacks are not justice."

Three houses were torched following court proceedings on Monday where the two accused were granted R5,000 bail each.

"I have this morning spoken with Acting National Police Commissioner, General Khomotso Phahlane, and have asked him to ensure that the Police Officers deployed to the area conduct their duties within the parameters of the law to ensure the safety of life and property. Furthermore, those found to be acting unlawfully must be apprehended," Maimane added.

"General Phahlane indicated that the SAPS will be deploying an additional team from Pretoria to restore calm in the area, and that there exists a separate criminal element that has taken advantage of the situation in Coligny,"the DA leader said.

Maimane said that it was irresponsible and dangerous for residents of Coligny to attempt to arms themselves and encourage others to join them with their weapons, and that this course of action could lead to a major violent incident.

"Furthermore, we condemn the actions of those who flame racial tensions in any manner – whether it be on social media or on the ground. The apartheid-era segregation on the basis of race unfolding in Coligny is not in keeping with our democratic state, and undermines our humanity."

African News Agency