‘The rightful owners of the land’, the Khoisan are back at Union Buildings


PRETORIA, November 30 – The group of Khoisan people who met then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in December last year after going on a hunger strike and camping at the seat of government for days, are back at the Union Buildings after again walking from Port Elizabeth and Durban.

“From last year up until now, we did not get any feedback from the president. That is why we are here, to get answers,” Chief Khoisan SA told journalists along Government Avenue, at the Union Buildings.

“This is a follow-up on the demands that were given to the president, who was then deputy president last year. The first [demand] was that we want the government to recognise us the first nation of South Africa. The second one, we want our languages to be official languages of this country. Thirdly, the Land Claim [Act] of 1913, we want it to be scrapped. As the first nation, we want to also own land.”

The Khoisan community is also fighting for the “coloured identity” to be scrapped.

“We are not coloureds, call us Bushmen, call us Khoisan, but we are not coloureds,” said the Chief Khoisan.

He said his community’s mission is to have another dialogue with Ramaphosa.

“We are still seeking the audience of the president because it’s important that the president says to us why he did not come back to us. Since January, he acknowledged us in Parliament when he said he had met up with activists. At the same time he talked about land expropriation without compensation [but] with that he is withholding the rightful owners of this land,” said Chief Khoisan SA.

He said the Presidency has communicated this week that Ramaphosa was not available to meet the Khoisan community.

“We don’t know where he is. There was no guarantee given but we made it clear to them that we will be here until the president comes,” said the leader of the Khoisan community.

This time, the community has sent a bigger delegation, including younger children. Some people on the entourage joined the walk from Durban.

“The message is that our younger generation is coming out, for their identity. They know who they are. For them it is reclaiming back what is rightfully theirs,” said Chief Khoisan emphatically.

Last year, the group of four Khoisan activists left on 24 December, only ending a 24-day live-in protest after Ramaphosa came out to meet them. For weeks, the group had been appealing for then-president Jacob Zuma or his deputy to come and receive their memorandum. They also made an appearance when the ruling African National Congress held its elective conference in Johannesburg, but were blocked from entering the venue.

On Friday, numerous tourists at the Union Buildings were requesting to take photographs with the Khoisan in their traditional attire.

– African News Agency (ANA)