We want recognition, Khoisan communities tell SAHRC

2016-04-15 22:42
(Schalk van Zuydam, AP)

(Schalk van Zuydam, AP)

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Upington - There have been renewed calls for formal recognition of the language and culture of Khoisan communities.

Several Khoisan leaders made presentations at the South African Human Rights Commission's National Investigative Hearing on human rights violations in South African Khoisan communities.

The public hearings were held in the Northern Cape this week.

"We've had quite a number of submissions – well thought-out, clearly presented submissions that we will look at when we compile our report," HRC Commissioner Danny Titus said at the conclusion of the hearing in Upington on Friday. 

The Upington-based San Council made an impassionate plea to the commission to assist in getting N!U – a San language that's estimated to be more than 25 000 years old - recognised as an official language.

"What we have done so far for the language is what we have done ourselves. We have made books, videos, alphabet etc. But if we don't get recognition, get it in schools as part of our curriculum, then all that we have done, would be for nothing," Leana Snyders, from the San council told the commission. 

"We would like our leadership structures to be recognised and our language to be recognised, but more importantly to be out in the schools," Snyder said. 

One of the leaders of the Khomani San in the Kalahari, Petrus Vaalbooi, echoed the call.

"It's something that I hope I will see before I die – our children coming from school and telling us, today they were taught the clicks, they are busy with grammar… they are being taught in their mother tongue."

Queens, kings, chiefs and ordinary members of the Khoisan communities attended the public hearings in Kimberley and Upington. Submissions were focused on land, culture and service delivery. 

The Northern Cape's House of the Griqua told the commission that they had received very little support from government departments after their land claim.

"Where the development programmes are concerned, we want national and provincial governments to honour the claims made by the Griqua, Korana and San community," Barend van Wyk said in his submission on behalf of the Griqua people. 

Other submissions focussed on service delivery, with the Xun and Khwe community, who live on a farm about 15km outside Kimberley, saying that they had been left behind in this respect.

"We have lack of municipal services at Platfontein like removal of rubbish, electricity, tap water and the housing project is not complete," Jafta Kapunda said. 

The commission, which has held public hearings in Gauteng and the Western Cape, says it will now compile a report and make recommendations.

"In the end, when we draw up the report, we will make concrete recommendations and hopefully concrete action plans that can give people the kind of confidence and trust in our Chapter 9 institutions," Titus said. 
The preliminary report will be sent to all affected parties, including provincial governments, national government and the National Assembly.

It will include short-term fixes and long-term plans. Titus said the commission would make sure that recommendations in the final report were followed up. 
"We will hold them to account. It's not recommendations like in the past, where people ignored it. It's now something with Constitutional backing and validity." 

Read more on:    sahrc

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