Khoisan activists in court on housebreaking and trespassing charges
Cape Town – A group of Khoisan people who allegedly illegally occupied a section of Table Mountain, and were arrested for housebreaking among other charges, will be back in court later this month.
The 12 suspects made their first appearance at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said the suspects were arrested for housebreaking, malicious damage to property and trespassing.
“Twelve people aged between 30 and 60 were arrested for housebreaking, malicious damage to property and trespassing. The case was postponed,” said Rwexana.
The accused were released on bail and are expected back in court on January 28.
Cochoqua project co-ordinator Shaun McDonald said they rejected the charges.
“We reject the legitimacy of these charges and we welcome the opportunity to go to court to prove our indigenous rights. We will pursue all legal avenues, up to the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
“The collective identified multiple vacant, abandoned and vandalised buildings within the table mountain National Park for occupation and protection and preservation.
“The actions by the collective has encountered resistance, experienced via the engagements with SANParks and the police. This was expected though, as the government has failed to instruct their officials, and protect the rights of the Indigenous people as agreed to when they voted for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People,” he said.
“The strategic actions of the collective, although done on behalf of the Khoi and Xam Nation, is done with the intention to benefit the entire South African nation,” said McDonald.
Advocate Venice Burgins said she would take the matter to the highest level to address the persecution of the Khoisan.
“At the moment Legal aid SA (are) on record for the matter however I'm taking it to the highest level to address this injustice and disgusting persecution of the Khoisan and all other traditional leaders in the province. They went to (Table Mountain) celebrate their cultural norms and traditions in celebration of New year,” said Burgins.
SANParks spokesperson Lauren Clayton said the matter was still under investigation and referred questions to police.