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24 Nov 2008 06:00
Children playing outside run and huddle around the trees at the sight of an unknown car. Women hide behind their washing; others rush inside and peep out through the curtains.
Men look around alarmed.
Since 19-year-old Johan Nel went on a rampage in Skierlik informal settlement near Swartruggens in North West in January, killing four people and wounding 11 others, residents say they live in constant fear.
“When we see a car stop or drive in here we tremble and seek shelter immediately,” says Cina Ngakane. “The day Nel came here was normal like this one. Then he parked his car and started shooting. Life here changed forever.”
This week Nel pleaded guilty in the Mmabatho High Court to four counts of murder and 11 of attempted murder.
Above all, the black residents say they want Nel to show remorse and explain his actions. Surprisingly, no one called for the death penalty.
Many local whites have difficulty talking about the issue; some turn away at the first mention of the murders. “I’m a farmer; so I’m sorry, I can’t speak about that,” says a white man approached by the Mail & Guardian.
The following were a few of the responses in this divided community:
Read more from Nosimilo Ndlovu
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