Seed to fight crime

2017-03-27 14:32
Sthembiso Nxele plants a Cassava plant in the food security garden in Northdale.

Sthembiso Nxele plants a Cassava plant in the food security garden in Northdale. (Ian Carbutt)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A Northdale man is seething after municipal officials who were clearing verges allegedly entered a seed bank project and threw around his religious icons.

Calvin Govender has, from 2015, been using the vacant municipal land on Springvale Road, near Springhaven Primary School, to start a food security outreach programme for impoverished communities.

In the garden there were also some wild dagga plants, which he said he sometimes used for herbal tea.

The officials removed wild dagga plants, which Govender said were to be used for sale for hemp products and as tea for cancer prevention.

Govender said approximately 12 municipal officials in four vehicles (NPC 3122, NPC 739, NPC 3261 and NPC 3118) arrived and “indicated that they were instructed to conduct verge clearing”.

“They subsequently entered the garden and began chopping down plants. When I attempted to question or take photographs of them, I was threatened with violence by one official.”

Govender said the officials cut and loaded most of the plants onto a municipal bakkie and drove away.

He said they had also thrown around his religious objects.

Govender said he could not understand why cannabis was grouped with “hard drugs” when in fact, it is a non-toxic plant with proven pain relief properties. Govender said he is very passionate about the rights and religion of Rastafarians as their use of dagga is “purely religious”.

“I am currently in the process of preparing to talk at a local high school with many dagga smokers about the alternative use of dagga. I want to encourage youngsters to stop smoking dagga and teach them about the health benefits the herb has when used as tea,” he said.

Govender said his non-profit organisation, Springhaven Seed Bank Harm Reduction Centre, intends to cultivate indigenous seeds that can be shared with those who cannot afford to buy food. Govender said by providing people with free seeds to grow in their gardens, he hopes to reduce crime as he believes most crimes stem from hunger and poverty.

“The prime mandate of this organisation is to reduce violent crime, which includes murder, rape, hijacking and robbery, as these crimes happen because the unemployed seek alternative ways to put food on their tables.

“We aim to do this by adopting a soft approach, which shifts police and the Department of Justice resources away from non-violent criminals — such as those who plant and use cannabis [as well as] sex-workers,” said Govender.

He added he considers prostitution and the use of dagga as non-violent crimes because there are no victims in these crimes. “These people are actually twice victimised. These government institutions bolster their crime statistics by targeting weaker community members,” he said.

Govender wants to work closely with the municipality as he is hopeful that they can help make his organisation more sustainable and fight poverty in the city.

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the laws around the growth and use of dagga have not changed and it still remains illegal and is also still considered to be a drug. She said she was unable to comment on the allegations that municipal workers threw the religious icons around.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  dagga

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
ADVERTORIAL
Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.