Khoisan activists in court for vandalism

2015-09-24 14:17

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Cape Town - Eight Khoisan activists will appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Friday for allegedly destroying a bench dedicated to a 17th century Khoi woman, Krotoa.

The group reportedly felt the bench was disrespectful and that Krotoa should rather be honoured with a statue.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut said the eight were arrested on Tuesday on charges of malicious damage to property.

The City of Cape Town said there was no justification for violence and destruction of public property.

“Those who participated in the destruction of this bench that was donated by the Rock Girl Safe Spaces campaign as part of a public art and education initiative in 2012 have no right to call themselves ‘activists’,” said Brett Herron, chairperson of the city’s naming committee.

Herron said the activists should have aired their grievances to the city, adding that no complaints had been received about the benches. It was ironic, he said, that the bench had been donated in an effort to oppose violence against women and children.

The benches were at Krotoa Place, the small square at the intersection of Castle Street and St George’s Mall.

Herron said Krotoa was a niece of Autshumato, an influential trade negotiator and interpreter, and sister-in-law to Oedassa, chief of the powerful Cochoquas. 

Commander Jan Van Riebeeck and his wife took her into the fort as a servant when she was about 10-years-old, at the time of the first European settlement in the Cape in 1652.

She became fluent in Dutch and also spoke English and Portuguese, and acted as an interpreter and negotiator.

“From 1658 for the following three years, Krotoa dominated the VOC journals as mediator between the VOC cattle seekers and the Khoekoen cattle breeders.”

Krotoa married Pieter Van Meerhoff, a Danish surgeon. He was killed on a slaving expedition in Madagascar in 1668. She died on Robben Island in 1674, where she had been banished five years earlier.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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