Rastafarians march to Kokstad Police Station

RASTAFARIANS from Kokstad marched from Bongweni Township to Kokstad Police Station on Wednesday, and handed over a list of grievances to SAPS Captain Thembinkosi Msane.

Msane signed the petition to acknowledge receipt but did not address the gathering.

The group said they are being victimised and targeted in their communities because of their culture and appearance. Protesting outside Kokstad Police Station, they called for police to stop searching for dagga in their homes without search warrants.

They want to be allowed to use dagga and not to be arrested by police for using it.
Reading the list of grievances, Lulamile Ras-Luja Phakathi, chairperson of the Rastafarians group in Kokstad, said they have rights to equality, dignity, protection and being treated with respect.

“We have rights to use natural resources, access to health care and to participate in the cultural life of our choice and practice our religion,” said Phakathi.

Last month, Rastafarians picketed outside Kokstad Magistrate’s Court demanding one of their members be released by the court after he was arrested for allegedly being in possession of dagga.

At the march, Rastafarians called dagga wisdom weed or the holy herb, as Vital Nako, a member of Rastafarian elders in Kokstad, said they are not forced to follow the religion so they must be treated with respect and not be undermined.

“Jah [God] created all plants for people to use them, so dagga is also created like other plants and it brings us closer to Jah. We are against the use of drugs by young people and we want police to arrest people who do crime,” said Nako.

SAPS spokesperson Captain Dumisani Ncongo said it is illegal to use dagga in public.

The march ended peacefully.

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