Mayor of Welkom, in the Free State, is tarred and feathered


Date: 13 May, 1989

Race relations during the decline of the Apartheid regime were particularly problematic as many Whites felt threatened by the eventuality of a regime change. Reactions to the perceived changes were often quite violent. This was the main cause of the events that transpired on the 13 May 1989 in Welkom, a small town in the then province of the Orange Free State when the mayor, a Mr Gus Gouws, was tarred and feathered, after officiating at a multi-racial wheelchair marathon event. According to sources, the National Party mayor, ran foul of his White constituency when he proposed the opening of a taxi rank in the business district of Welkom.

The aggrieved members of the town then sought to humiliate him in order to dissuade him from authorising the erection of the facility by assaulting him and a security guard while he was officiating at the event. Though only four men were arrested and charged with the assault, it is believed more were involved. However, their sentences amounted to little more than an insignificant punishment, as the town banded together to protect the culprits and frustrate the investigating officers.


  1. Race Relations Survey, South African Institute of Race Relations, Johannesburg (online), available at: [Accessed 30 April 2010]
  2. Die Teer en Veer van 'n Burgemeester.  (online), available at: [Accessed 30 April 2010]
  3. May 14 1989, The Victoria Advocate, Tarred, Feathered (online), available at: [Accessed 30 April 2010]