Ju­dah S­qua­re re­acts af­ter raid

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Voorblad - S­te­fan Goo­sen

The raid on the Ras­ta­fa­ri­an com­mu­ni­ty of Ju­dah S­qua­re in Knys­na two weeks ago has cau­sed out­ra­ge on so­ci­al me­dia, with pro-can­na­bis sup­por­ters coun­try­wi­de vo­cal on w­hat they deem the un­fair tre­at­ment of a pe­a­ce­ful com­mu­ni­ty.

On Tu­es­day 13 March a lar­ge con­tin­gent of po­li­ce re­sour­ces – mo­re than 20 vehi­cles and mo­re than 60 of­fi­cers, ac­cor­ding to re­si­dents – rai­ded the Ras­ta­fa­ri­an sanc­tu­a­ry in Knys­na, le­a­ding to one ar­rest and al­most 2 000 con­fis­ca­ted can­na­bis plants.

Pe­a­ce­ful gat­her­ing

On Hu­man Rig­hts’ Day last week, Wed­nes­day 21 March, a group of Ju­dah S­qua­re com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and sup­por­ters of the can­na­bis cul­tu­re, in­clu­ding the Dag­ga Par­ty of South A­fri­ca’s Je­re­my Ac­ton, held a pe­a­ce­ful gat­her­ing in Qu­een S­treet.

Their aim was to gat­her sig­na­tu­res on a me­mo­ran­dum re­que­s­ting po­li­ce to chan­ge their stan­ce on and acti­ons a­gainst can­na­bis u­sers and the per­se­cu­ti­on of the dag­ga cul­tu­re. A small group of tho­se gat­he­red han­ded o­ver the signed me­mo­ran­dum.

‘Na­ti­on­wi­de acti­on’

Ac­cor­ding to Ac­ton, si­mi­lar me­mo­ran­dums will be sent to po­li­ce sta­ti­ons a­cross the coun­try.

Whi­le the pro-can­na­bis sup­por­ters we­re gat­her­ing, three po­li­ce vans pul­led up as the­re was a chan­ce that the gat­her­ing, for which no per­mit had been soug­ht, could be dee­med il­le­gal. But the is­sue was soon cle­a­red up be­t­ween Ac­ton and po­li­ce of­fi­ci­als.

To the po­li­ce of­fi­ci­als pre­sent, Ac­ton said, “We are he­re to de­li­ver a me­mo­ran­dum to the Knys­na po­li­ce re­gar­ding hu­man rig­hts and our rig­hts as mem­bers of the dag­ga cul­tu­re of South A­fri­ca. It is al­so a­bout the Wes­tern Ca­pe High Court jud­ge­ment. We are he­re in pe­a­ce and to pro­vi­de the po­li­ce with in­for­ma­ti­on and truth a­bout w­hat can­na­bis re­al­ly is,” he said.

Law ‘cri­mi­nal sin­ce in­cep­ti­on’

Ac­ton said the law go­ver­ning the use of can­na­bis has been cri­mi­nal sin­ce its in­cep­ti­on, and it is now old and out­da­ted. “All who en­for­ce t­his law are acting on be­half of cri­mi­nals,” he con­ti­nu­ed.

He was re­fer­ring to Wes­tern Ca­pe

High Court jud­ge Den­nis Da­vis’ ru­ling on 31 March which found that it was an in­frin­ge­ment of the con­sti­tu­ti­o­nal rig­ht to pri­va­cy to ban the per­so­nal use of dag­ga by a­dults in their ho­mes.

‘Raid a was­te of mo­ney’

Lo­cal can­na­bis acti­vist An­tho­ny Col­ley said at the gat­her­ing that he felt the raid on Ju­dah S­qua­re was a com­ple­te was­te of tax­pay­ers’ mo­ney.

“The­re was no se­arch war­rant of­fe­red up, so t­his is a com­ple­te vi­o­la­ti­on … t­his is not the law but rat­her a kind of Wild West s­how on the part of the po­li­ce. It re­al­ly up­sets me to see a com­mu­ni­ty rob­bed li­ke t­his. I can tell you t­his raid was a de­li­be­ra­te one – why all the ri­ot ge­ar and vehi­cles? It’s just not rig­ht,” he ad­ded.

A­not­her acti­vist A­lex­an­der Do­w­ding has go­ne so far as sen­ding a let­ter to Par­li­a­ment, at­ta­ching the Knys­na-P­lett He­rald’s ar­ti­cle re­por­ting on the raid, on 15 March, to it.

In his let­ter Do­w­ding ex­pres­ses his com­ple­te dis­may and dis­gust at w­hat he calls a­part­heid era-ty­pe in­ter­ven­ti­ons that are still being per­pe­tra­ted a­gainst t­he­se ty­pes of com­mu­ni­ties, “which mo­re of­ten than not con­sist of pe­op­le of co­lour and tho­se who we­re for­mer­ly op­pres­sed by the a­part­heid re­gi­me”.

Lo­cal ro­le play­ers weigh in

Not on­ly did Ju­dah S­qua­re com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and pro-can­na­bis sup­por­ters from a­cross South A­fri­ca voi­ce their o­pi­ni­on on the raid, but so did so­me lo­cal ro­le play­ers.

The of­fi­ce of Knys­na ma­yor E­le­a­no­re Bou­wS­pies has con­fir­med that the ma­yor has sent a let­ter to Knys­na po­li­ce sta­ti­on com­man­der Co­lo­nel At­well Me­tu, who has re­spon­ded.

“As t­his let­ter was an in­ter­go­vern­men­tal let­ter, the con­tent the­re­of shall re­main be­t­ween the co­lo­nel and the ma­yor,” said the ma­yor’s acting of­fi­ce ma­na­ger Fran Kir­sten.

Knys­na Tou­rism chair El­may Bou­wer al­so com­men­ted: “Ob­vi­ous­ly, as law-a­bi­ding ci­ti­zens we un­der­stand the pur­po­se of the raid, but I feel that it was very un­for­tu­na­te in the way it was do­ne, not just be­cau­se it up­set an en­ti­re com­mu­ni­ty, but al­so be­cau­se of all the ne­ga­ti­ve pu­bli­ci­ty it at­trac­ted for our town.

“The Ras­ta­fa­ri­an com­mu­ni­ty is a pe­a­ce­ful com­mu­ni­ty and of­fers an au­then­tic Knys­na ex­pe­rien­ce for ma­ny of our vi­si­tors. We will con­ti­nue to pro­mo­te the tou­rs to w­hat is es­sen­ti­al­ly the big­ge­st Ras­ta­fa­ri­an com­mu­ni­ty in South A­fri­ca be­cau­se our tou­ris­ts lo­ve going the­re,” she said.

P­ho­tos: S­te­fan Goo­sen

Vi­sit www.knys­na­pletthe­rald.com for mo­re p­ho­tos and vi­deo

Just so­me of the Ju­dah S­qua­re com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and pro-can­na­bis sup­por­ters in front of the Knys­na po­li­ce sta­ti­on af­ter their me­mo­ran­dum was han­ded o­ver on Hu­man Rig­hts Day on Wed­nes­day 21 March.

Ju­dah S­qua­re com­mu­ni­ty le­a­der Brot­her Maxi at a pro-can­na­bis gat­her­ing on Hu­man Rig­hts Day last week.

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