UPDATE | De Lille halts court process to have protesting Khoisan evicted from Union Buildings

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Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille
Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille
PHOTO: Jaco Marais/Netwerk24
  • Patricia de Lille halted the court process for an order to evict the group of Khoisan, who have been protesting outside the Union Buildings.
  • According to her spokesperson, the Department of Public Works did not consult De Lille before going to court for the order. 
  • The group have been protesting outside the official seat of the SA government for nearly two years.

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille has requested that the court matter to obtain an eviction order to remove the group of Khoisan, who have been protesting outside the Union Buildings for nearly two years, be put on hold.

Earlier on Friday, News24 reported that the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure had approached the court to get rid of the small group of Khoisan, led by King Khoisan SA.

The department confirmed to News24 that they had "gone to court to apply for an eviction order of the people illegally occupying the Union Building grounds".

The order had not yet been granted.

READ | Public Works seeks court order to evict protesting Khoisan from Union Buildings

Just hours later, De Lille's spokesperson Zara Nicholson told News24 the department's comments should be disregarded as the minister was not consulted about the court process for an eviction order and requested that the matter be put on hold until she has been consulted.

On 30 November, it will have been two years since the small group of protesters arrived at the official seat of the South African government after making the arduous 1 200km journey, from the Eastern Cape, on foot.

Khoisan SA said there had been attempts to get them to leave the Union Buildings, but they had never been taken to court.

He said previously the lights at the area were switched off during the evenings, leaving them in complete darkness, and that there were threats to open a case of vandalism after stones from a wall were taken and placed to anchor the tents of the Khoisan.

Khoisan SA also believes the removal of their dagga plants, "for medicinal purposes", was part of the action to make the Union Buildings inhospitable.

WATCH | If coronavirus does not kill us, hunger will - Khoisan protesting outside Union Buildings

There have been requests for the Khoisan to move, and most recently they were asked to go to a homeless shelter just before the hard lockdown was put into effect in March.

Khoisan SA said they were informed that an eviction order was being sought, but they were resolute in their protest and would have to be forcibly removed.

"If we are given a court order for eviction, we will not accept the eviction note, we will not sign for the eviction note, and we will tell the officials that we need the president to engage with us regarding the issues that have been brought forward," Khoisan SA said.

The protesting Khoisan have demanded that:
  • The Khoisan people must be recognised as the first indigenous nation in South Africa;
  • The label "coloured" must be removed from all official papers as a reference for people of mixed colour, and be replaced with "Khoisan";
  • Kwadi–Khoe must be listed as an official language in South Africa; and
  • The Khoisan must be given land and resources to continue their culture and traditions.

News24 sent questions to the Presidency about the demands made by the protesting group and the progress made in meeting these demands or finding an amicable solution. These answers will be added once received.

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 that Khoisan SA suffered extreme fatigue, malaise and that he had lost 34kg. Christian Martin, 37, who joined in the hunger strike at the Union Buildings, lost 26kg and suffered from hypoglycaemia as a result of malnourishment.

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

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