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Rastafarians demand recognition

LISTEN TO US: A member of the Rastafarian movement holds a placard outside the gates of Parliament. Pictures: ENRICO JACOBS

LISTEN TO US: A member of the Rastafarian movement holds a placard outside the gates of Parliament. Pictures: ENRICO JACOBS

Published Mar 1, 2017

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A group of about 200 Rastafarians marched through Keizersgracht, Constitution and Roeland streets yesterday to hand over a memorandum to Parliament, demanding not to be treated like second-class

citizens.

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The Rastafarians, who are from various organisations across the province, marched 2.3km before reaching Parliament in Plein Street.

They sang, danced and voiced their frustration in front of Parliament’s gates, highlighting the marginalisation, discrimination, criminalisation and victimisation they said they were subjected to in South Africa.

The day was also marked to celebrate the Ethiopian victory over Italy at the Battle of Adwa on March 1, 1896.

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Rastafari United Front chairperson Thau-Thau Haramanuba said although his organisation was legal and a recognised faith-based body, its members were still persecuted and not recognised by

Parliament.

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“The South African government is violating its own constitution by not recognising the (Rastafarian) movement. There is no way that the Rastafarian movement is free, judging by the way its members are treated on a daily basis.

“The South African government is continuously

committing human rights

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violations by not recognising our

religion. The constitution gives us a right to (freedom of) religion. The government must understand that there is no Rasta-

farian without ganja (marijuana). We don’t go about abusing and killing people, all we do is burn ganja inside our bodies,” said Haramanuba.

As protesters marched through the streets, the scent of dagga filled the air.

Another protester, Joseph Nafetali, said the march was not only about legalisation of dagga, but to pursue collective governance, ensuring human rights and justice, and to

maintain dignity for all

citizens.

A representative of the secretary of the Speaker of Parliament, Isak Davids, accepted the memorandum and promised to provide feedback in the next three weeks.

[email protected]

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