ON Wednesday, Rastafarians from Kokstad picketed outside the Kokstad Magistrate’s Court for the release of a 35-year-old rasta man who was arrested for allegedly being in possession of dagga.
It is said that police were doing a stop and search operation when the man was caught with dagga hidden between his dreadlocks in his head on Tuesday morning while using public transportation. When he was due to appear in court, the Kokstad rastas picketed outside the court.
They called for the court to release him, failing which they threaten to organise more rastas from other places to gather and give them support.
“Ganja [dagga] is just like a cigarette so we don’t understand why police arrest people who are using it because people carry cigarettes everywhere. We are feeling oppressed and our rights are being victimised by government,” said Malibongwe Thuntulwana, one of the picketers.
He said Rastafarians must be allowed to use dagga everywhere because it brings them closer to Jah (God).
“There are many churches that use wine to bring congregants closer to God, but Rastafarians are prohibited from using ganja,” said Thuntulwana.
“Rastas are against drug use and we don’t use cocaine, whoonga or any form of drug. Ganja is not a drug, it is just a plant,” said another picketer, Lwandile Mzamo. Rastas call ganja a “wisdom weed” or the “holy herb”.
SAPS spokesperson Captain Dumisani Ncongo said the use of dagga is still illegal in the country so people who use it will be arrested and charged. Outcomes of the case were not available at the time of going to press.