Before Bloody Monday, people in the Vaal Triangle were protesting about the new rents. The Lekoa Council wanted to increase their rents by R5.95. Churches and other organisations warned the council. But their words fell on deaf ears. People asked the councillors to resign too. The people said that they did not choose them.
Days passed. Nobody said anything. Then towards the end of August, meetings were held. People decided that they would not go to work on Monday the third. It was to be a day of protest against the rent increases.
When the council heard this, they quickly made pamphlets. They wanted to frighten everyone. The pamphlets said that people would lose their jobs and houses if they stayed away from work. But when Monday came, everyone stayed at home.
I was living with my parents in Sebokeng and I was worried. My parents wanted me to stay at home. But this I couldn’t do.
I crept out of the yard and met my two friends, Siphiwe and Xolile. We went down the road. All the shops were closed. People stood around in small groups, talking. Everyone talked about the new rent.
I felt that things were very wrong. I knew that something sad was going to happen. The road was blocked with stones. Buses had stopped.
We found a big group of people at the Roman Catholic Church. They were looking at the road. I ran to see what was happening. People were stoning a car. Suddenly four hippos appeared. The people ran away to the shopping centre. Three hippos passed but one turned and followed the crowd. We followed. When we got to the shopping centre, I hid behind a fence and watched.
The crowd picked up stones and went towards the police. There were too many stones and soon the police drove off. People began to sing. Then they went to the bottle store and took crates of beer.
Suddenly two more police trucks came and fired teargas. I didn’t know what it was. The others ran. But I stayed at the fence. A cop fired a rubber bullet. It landed close to me. I went and picked it up. Suddenly I became dizzy. Pain hit my eyes. I ran to get water and washed my face. The water helped.
I thought that the piece of rubber caused my dizziness. Later someone told me that it was teargas. I learnt something that day.
(made easy from “The Third Day of September”, by Johannes Rantete.
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