The Citizen (Gauteng)

Khoisan still unmoved

DE LILLE: STOPS EVICTION OF GROUP CAMPING OUTSIDE UNION BUILDINGS

- Reitumetse Mahope

Leader wants meeting with Ramaphosa on their memorandum of demands.

Plans to evict a group of Khoisan protesters from the grounds of the Union Buildings have been put on ice. “Minister Patricia de Lille was not consulted on this matter and has requested that the matter be put on hold until she has been consulted,” said Zara Nicholson, a spokespers­on for the department of public works and infrastruc­ture.

The small group of protesting Khoisan people, led by the Khoisan king, have been staging a sit-in on the terrace where the Nelson Mandela statue was erected almost two years ago.

During a recent visit to the group, the Khoisan leader – King Khoisan – showed off the vegetable garden they had planted under Level 3 of the lockdown to feed themselves. The garden has carrots, cabbage, beetroot, basil, broccoli, butternuts and squash.

“We eat from this garden as we also need to sustain ourselves as months would get rough,” he said.

The protest began in 2018 when the group left Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape for Pretoria on foot to find out what had become of their memorandum of demands submitted during their first campout in Pretoria the previous year.

Monday, 30 November, marks two years since they started living at the Union Buildings.

“If we are given a court order for eviction, whether it’s today or days to come, we will not accept any eviction,” said King Khoisan, adding that their stay at the Union Buildings had already been unbearable

but have been through too many storms to quit now.

“We will tell any official here who wants to evict us that we need the president to first engage with us regarding the issues we had brought to him.”

He said they had not planned to stay this long. “When we came here, we thought this would be a journey of two to three weeks, however, we find ourselves being here for almost two years.”

King Khoisan claimed the department of public works had been trying to use various actions to remove

them.

“The first action was when we had power cuts where we were camping. We had stayed approximat­ely four months without power,” he said.

“Everything used to be dark, however, we approached the department officials and the lights were put back on.”

He said the department had blamed them for a broken irrigation system.

They had also been blamed for damages to old rocks used to create walls at the Union Buildings and

harassing staff maintainin­g the gardens.

“Taps we would normally use to get water from would be cut off,” he claimed.

Since 2017, the group have been demanding: To be recognised as the fi rst nation of South Africa, and included in decision-making; That their language be recognised as an official language of South Africa; For the land claims of 1913, to be scrapped because it was withholdin­g their claims as the true owners of the land; and For the coloured identity be scrapped from Z83 forms and all forms of identi fication.

We will not accept any court order for eviction

 ?? Picture: Jacques Nelles ?? HEAR US OUT. King Khoisan SA at his camp on the lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria in June. Minister Patricia de Lille has ordered that plans to evict the protesters be put on ice.
Picture: Jacques Nelles HEAR US OUT. King Khoisan SA at his camp on the lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria in June. Minister Patricia de Lille has ordered that plans to evict the protesters be put on ice.

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