‘I’m Khoisan, not coloured’
Cape Town - The Western Cape Khoisan have called for a reclassification of their race and the dismantling of references to groupings according to race.
This emerged at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) investigative hearings into human rights violations in South African Khoisan communities, held in the Goodwood Civic Centre on Wednesday.
The commission was running its second leg of the hearings; the first was in Joburg last month; the final will be in the Northern Cape next year.
Cochoqua clan chief Tanya Kleinhans-Cedras, who gave a presentation on behalf of the Institute for the Restoration of the Aborigines of SA, said Aborigine people no longer wanted to be labelled as coloureds.
“When the apartheid government constructed the racist discrimination laws they were the architects of genocide. It would be within our classification code because the last three digits would indicate what classification race you are from. What I am saying is, I am not a coloured I am a Khoisan by birth. You classified me as such so it is incumbent upon you to (reclassify) me (as) to whom I really am.”
Paul Fredericks, an Aborigine veteran, agreed with Kleinhans-Cedras. He said reclassifying the Khoisan would show future generations the importance of their culture.
“My heart bleeds for the future generation if we don’t do anything about it now. We are not coloureds. They need to know that and the government needs to make it official.”
Kleinhans-Cedras told the panel it was important to restructure and, even, dismantle the reference structure groups because they “fostered government ideas”.
She said the Khoisan was unable to engage in meaningful discussions with the Department for Rural Development and Land Reform regarding ancestral land because the reference structure groups complied and adhered to the department’s mandate.
“The fact that we are appointed and mandated by the department we have to comply by their mandate. The terms of reference is stated by the department. You are basically in a hybrid and it’s disturbing for all reference group peoples.”
Other issues touched on were basic services, land and constitutionality of the indigenous groups in South Africa.
Danny Titus, commissioner and chairman of the hearing, said the commission had received numerous complaints and wanted to deal with them in a public hearing forum rather than individually.
“The Khoisan want to be acknowledged and that their land was taken away. They cannot become part of a democratic South Africa if their voices are not heard. What we saw was that people are grounding their claims in firm historical evidence. People do not suck this out of their thumbs; there is sound evidence.”
The SAHRC will have to compile a report with recommendations for the government and civilians.
On Thursday, the commission will hear from experts and government officials.
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