Khoisan protestors squatting on the lawns of South Africa’s seat of government in Pretoria now say they are going to grow dagga. City Press newspaper reported on 27 June 2021 that the small group, who’ve occupied the lawns of the Union Building for the past two and a half years, erected the first of two greenhouses in April 2021 and have planted cannabis.
Now the Democratic Alliance is up in arms, partly because the leader of the protestors, who calls himself King Khoisan SA, is happy to spend most of the day naked. The DA’s regional co-ordinator in Gauteng, Leanne de Jager, told Rapport newspaper on 27 June 2021 that the Khoisan squatter site was “unseemly, horrible and illegal” as it was occupying a key national location and a world heritage site.
King Khoisan SA; what’s wrong with being naked and growing weed on the lawns of the Union Buldings?
“What will happen if such squatting also starts at other places, such as the Voortrekker Monument?” she asked. The DA, she said, would continue pressurising government to “restore the Unions Buildings’ lawns to their former glory” by intervening immediately and moving all the squatters elsewhere.
King Khoisan SA says his group will not leave until their demands are met and plans on increasing the size of the protest community to 100.
He’s also keen to grow more weed.
King Khoisan SA: trying different strains
He told City Press he was angry that someone had broken off the branches of “five dagga plants that were like beautiful young girls” and that the early harvest would be supplemented by many other young plants in the soil.
“We have different strains and try to raise the standard. We don’t sell marijuana – we’ll give it to you. We make tea from it and smoke it. At one time, we made juice with a pineapple and lemon flavour.”
The greenhouse is currently the sleeping place of a guest of the Khoisan campers, Byron Bernard, who grows dagga and is an expert on its medicinal uses, says King Khoisan SA.
“Government thinks we’ll either die of old age here or [eventually] go home. But if we leave without results, it will look as if we’ve given up,” he says.
The Khoisan have four demands:
- They want to be declared South Africa’s first nation, “because the cave paintings say so too”;
- They want official status for Khoekhoegowab, the language spoken by all the Khoisan tribes, albeit in different dialects;
- They want possession of their ancestors’ land; and
- They want to be classified not as coloured, but as Khoisan.
King Khoisan SA says that the last feedback the group received from government was when the late Jackson Mthembu, then minister in the presidency, visited them in November 2020.
“The minister said we were in full view of government and had to be helped. We made a medicine pack of herbs for him in good faith. We were shocked when we heard he’d died of Covid-19 in January, because our medicine’s good. God alone knows what happened there.” says the king.
The minister said we were in full view of government and had to be helped. We made a medicine pack of herbs for him in good faith.
Marquard Pienaar, founder of the Federal Party SA, has been living in his tent on the same terrace as the Khoisan for a year, but they do not share his views.
He is demanding that South Africa adopt the Swiss model of federalism.
According to King Khoisan SA, Pienaar arrived at the Union Buildings “and said he couldn’t afford a flat. He said he was homeless, but he had a different agenda. Then he handed out flyers and put up signs.”
Pienaar says his tent was initially on the Khoisan’s side of the Nelson Mandela statue on the terrace, “but then they shot arrows. A soccer ball was kicked against my tent. They threw spears past it. We don’t talk to each other.”
In fact, adds Pienaar, he and a Khoisan member are engaged in a dispute in the Magistrates’ Court over a protection order that the campers want against him.
The king says that, in another tent on a higher terrace is a man “whose head is mixed up”.
“He walked around naked and the police came.”
De Jager said that, while she sympathised with the Khoisan’s demands, the squatting could no longer be tolerated.
The party’s shadow ministers of public works and of police will raise questions about this in Parliament.