Ghost of Glenmore holds one-man picket

"Glenmore ghost is back for justice" read Ben Mafani's placard during his one-man picket in front of the High Court on Wednesday morning.

"Government and the Department of Justice must take the people of Glenmore out of that hole. We have been in that hole forever," he declared.

Mafani is a self proclaimed activist desperate to attract the government's attention to the plight of the residents of Glenmore, a village where all the inhabitants live in abject poverty.

On the other side of his placard were pictures of some Glenmore "heroes" whose faces he had marked with red ink to symbolise that "the residents of Glenmore are crying blood". Underneath he had written the slogan: "Ngoku siyabona" (now we see) pertaining to how the residents of Glenmore "were in the dark but now they know what is rightfully theirs". Mafani considers his village as "a civic prison" for all who live there and that it is time for the residents to be "released".

He says he has sent letters to the Public Protector, the Human Rights Commission and the Premier's Office with his main three demands outlined. Topping the list is relocating the 140 bodies that were buried alongside the Fish River to the new cemetery.

Mafani says these people had all died within the first years after their forced removal in 1979, requesting a copy of the letter that authorised their forced relocation from Colchester, Kouga and Klipfontein to Glenmore, around 40 kilometres from Grahamstown in the Peddie direction.

He states that the Glenmore residents were promised R45-million at the time of the relocation and now he wants to know where it went. "The money was going to be used to fix the area and turn it into a model township, now it is a ghost town," he said.

Mafani says he is picketing to get the government's attention and he is planning to continue until today. "If nothing is done before the end of the week I will hold a symbolic protest where I will throw a brick through a small window in the High Court," he says.

If he does so, this will not be the first time he has commited such an offense as Mafani has been previously charged with breaking windows of the high court building on two occasions. He was released in August last year on condition that he not repeat the crime in the space of five years.

He said he has faxed letters to different media houses inviting them to make South Africa aware of the situation. The letter is entitled "I am not making a noise - I am speaking." He vows not to stop until the government takes a decision, providing an ultimatum saying that, "If the government thinks I am disturbing the peace and causing havoc over nothing, they are welcome to arrest and sentence me to life imprisonment or the death penalty."

But he says if what he is fighting for is justified, something should be done to correct the problem as soon as possible.

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UNMOVING... Glenmore activist, Ben Mafani brandishing a placard on which he past
UNMOVING... Glenmore activist, Ben Mafani brandishing a placard on which he pasted photographs of Glendmore residents . He wants the government to do something about the village where all the inhabitants are unemployed. Photo: Asanda Naketi

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