President Jacob Zuma Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS
Ventersdorp – Racism is a terrible sickness of apartheid that needed to be cured, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.

"The youth, black and white, should join the battle against racism in the country and to build a truly united, non-racial society," Zuma said while addressing people in Ventersdorp during government's main Youth Day commemoration.

"The town of Coligny here in North West lost a young person, Matlhomola Moshoeu, who was brutally murdered. The circumstances of this murder will be determined by the courts and we should allow the law to take its course."

He said Moshoeu's death must unite the people of Coligny in the determination to defeat racism by working together. The young boy died on April 20. Two farmers, Pieter Doorewaard, 26, and Phillip Schutte, 34, were arrested for his murder and were granted R5 000 bail each. They were expected to appear in court again on June 26. The farmers claim Moshoeu had stolen a sunflower from their employer's field near Scotland informal settlement, and jumped out of a moving van while they were taking him to the Coligny police station. An eyewitness had told the police Moshoeu was thrown out of a moving van.

His death sparked violent protests and divided the community of Coligny along racial lines. "We host June 16 commemoration in Ventersdop, which has had its own sad history of negative race relations given the influence of some former resident of this town," he said referring to the former leader of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), Eugene Terre'Blanche.

Terre'Blanche waged a sustained torture campaign against black people in Ventersdorp. "At the same time, Ventersdorp has a positive history because Uncle JB Marks is now buried here. Let us build a non-racial town where South Africans respect one another and build a better future together, in the memory of Oliver Tambo and JB Marks," Zuma said.