King Khoisan SA believes arrest a ploy to silence his protest, remove him from Union Buildings

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King Khoisan SA being welcomed by his supporters after being released on warning.
King Khoisan SA being welcomed by his supporters after being released on warning.
News24/Alex Mitchley
  • King Khoisan SA, who has been protesting outside the Union Buildings for more than three years, was arrested for dealing in dagga.
  • He believes his arrest was a ploy to remove him from the national key point and silence his protest.
  • Khoisan SA, who has been growing dagga at the site for more than a year, says the arrest will not deter him.

King Khoisan SA, who has been staging a sit-in protest at the Union Buildings for more than three years now, believes his arrest is a ploy to remove him from the national key point and silence his protest. 

On Wednesday, Khoisan SA and two others were arrested by a large contingent of police officers at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. 

More than a dozen police officers, including the K9 Unit and a forensic team, were part of the operation. 
King Khoisan SA
King Khoisan SA and his vegetable garden at the Union Buildings in Tshwane.
News24 News24/Alex Mitchley
Khoisan, King Khoisan SA, dagga
King Khoisan SA and Donovan Manuel standing in the dock at Pretoria Magistrate's Court.
News24 News24/Alex Mitchley

At the time, the police claimed four people were arrested for dealing in dagga, the illegal cultivation of dagga on public property and failing to wear a mask after being instructed to do so by a law enforcement officer. 

However on Thursday morning, only Khoisan SA and Donovan Manuel appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court, facing a charge of dealing in dagga. A woman who was arrested with them had the charges withdrawn against her. 

WATCH | King Khoisan SA arrested for growing, selling dagga at Union Buildings

Khoisan SA and other protesters living at the foot of the Union Buildings since November 2019 had been growing dagga in their makeshift kraal for more than a year. 

After being released on warning, he told the media his arrest was an attempt to silence their protest. 

"This was also just their way of getting rid of us. But this is not going to stop. We will continue to fight because it is in our blood," Khoisan SA said.

He added his arrest and the laws that led to him being placed in a police van on Wednesday "was a smack in the face for the first nation".
Khoisan, King Khoisan SA, dagga
Supporters of Khoisan SA smoking dagga outside of the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.
News24 News24/Alex Mitchley
Khoisan, King Khoisan SA, dagga
Khoisan SA supporters smoking dagga outside of the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.
News24 News24/Alex Mitchley
Khoisan, King Khoisan SA, dagga
Dagga being ground up outside of the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.
News24 News24/Alex Mitchley
Khoisan, King Khoisan SA, dagga
King Khoisan SA being welcomed by his supporters after being released on warning.
News24 News24/Alex Mitchley

"They thought we were going to follow their laws. Their laws smoking dagga put us in prison. This cannot be fair," Khoisan SA said. 

The inference was the Khoisan could not abide by such laws as their ancestors had been smoking dagga long before Europeans first lay anchor on the shores of southern Africa. 

READ | There's a Khoisan on Zuma's stoep

He added the dagga was used for medicinal purposes. 

"We cannot continue with other people's law that they want to inflict on us as the first nation."

Khoisan SA and a small group of protesters have been protesting since making the arduous 1 200km journey from the Eastern Cape on foot. 

They have been living in tents near the Nelson Mandela statue at the foot of the Union Buildings. 

The protesters are demanding that:
  • The Khoisan people be recognised as the first indigenous nation of South Africa.
  • The label "coloured" as a reference to people of a mixed race, be removed from all official documents.
  • Kwazi-Khoe be listed as an official language.
  • The Khoisan be given land and resources to continue their culture and traditions.

This is the group's second bid to have their demands met.

In 2017, Khoisan SA and three others made a similar journey to the Union Buildings in an attempt to be recognised.

Things took a dangerous turn when the four of them embarked on a hunger strike that lasted close to a month.

READ | Khoisan will continue to camp outside Union Buildings until their demands are met

News24 reported Khoisan SA suffered extreme fatigue, malaise and that he lost 34kg.

Christian Martin, 37, who joined them at the Union Buildings, lost 26kg and suffered from hypoglycaemia due to malnourishment.

The group left after Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president at the time, received a memorandum of demands. But they returned months later because of an alleged lack of progress in meeting the demands.

Khoisan SA said none of the demands had been met, despite the signing of the Khoisan Traditional Leadership Bill, as he had inherent issues with the legislation, including that it did not recognise Khoisan as the first nation and did not mention land for kings, chiefs, and the community.


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