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Khoisan community bemoans bad treatment by govt officials

File picture: Members of the Khoi and San community camped outside the Union Building in 2019. At the time they demanded that President Cyril Ramaphosa walk down the stairs to address them and hear their plight. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

File picture: Members of the Khoi and San community camped outside the Union Building in 2019. At the time they demanded that President Cyril Ramaphosa walk down the stairs to address them and hear their plight. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 2, 2022

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Johannesburg - The Khoisan community has expressed outrage at the manner in which they were allegedly treated by some government officials during a recent Land Summit.

This comes after the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) held a National Communal Land Tenure Summit on May 27 – 28 at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, east of Joburg.

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Anthony Phillip Williams, CEO of the Indigenous First Nation Advocacy SA (Ifnasa) told IOL that the Khoisan community was allegedly denied access to the venue and had to fight their way in so that they could be part of the proceedings.

He said they had to show up unannounced because their emails were allegedly ignored.

Williams further claimed that although the DALRRD did not want the Khoisan community at the Summit they were eventually let in inside the venue after the intervention of some senior leaders.

“We had to fight our way inside in the morning. What these people (DALRRD officials) did was that they deliberately ensured they do not respond to our emails.

“They were hoping we would not show up.

“We were not even 50 (people).

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“It’s immoral and criminal how the government has handled this summit.

“It is so heartbreaking.

“We don’t know why these guys had to stoop so low and bar us from a discussion which we are at the centre of.”

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According to Williams, they were also taken back by comments allegedly made later by DALRRD chief director Bonginkosi Zulu after he is alleged to have said during an interview with a local radio station that the, “Khoi and San do not have communal land”.

William described Nkosi’s alleged comments as bizarre adding that “they (DALRRD) know that much of the land was taken from away from us (the Khoisan)”.

Meanwhile, Williams said one of their main points is that the government return the entire land to the Khoisan community.

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He further mentioned that they do not trust the outcomes of the recent summit.

“It’s not that we don’t trust the government, we just don’t trust the outcomes of this summit.

“Remember there are a lot of ANC conferences that will take place and everyone is up for positions.

“No ANC leader will prioritise anything from this summit,” he said.

He applauded Deputy President David Mabuza for maintaining peace at the summit and ensuring that they were eventually heard as a community.

Responding to the allegations, DALRRD spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo confirmed that the Khoisan community was invited because their leaders were present inside the venue.

“Other delegates just rocked up and were not registered.

“What does one do?

“Some of them said they do not have their ID books and that they do not carry their IDs and yet they were accommodated and a place for them to sleep was organised,” he said.

According to Ngcobo, 40 delegates were initially registered and vetted, however, on the day of the Summit, 40 more delegates arrived demanding to be part of the proceedings.

Ngcobo said of the 80 delegates who were part of the Khoisan community, only five had IDs.

He maintained that Khoi and San caused a lot of chaos at the summit because they also demanded to speak in their own language without an interpreter.

Ngcobo dismissed allegations that the department ignored the emails sent by the Khoisan delegates.

“All traditional leaders that were present were transported by the department.

“How do you book someone accommodation without their names?

“The Khoisan were even worse because we had to make special arrangements for those who arrived afterwards,” he said.

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