Khoi-San activists in the Eastern Cape on Monday entered an animal cage and intend on sleeping in it for the next 11 days - protesting against what they believe is animal cruelty taking place at the East London Zoo. PHOTO: Supplied

PORT ELIZABETH - Khoisan activists in the Eastern Cape on Monday entered an animal cage and said they intend on sleeping in it for the next 11 days -- protesting against what they believe was animal cruelty taking place at the East London Zoo.

The group is known for its unconventional ways of protesting. 

In 2017, they protested outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria on a hunger strike for three weeks demanding government to recognise Khoisan as the first nation of South Africa -- they wanted their language to be made official and the land claims of 1913 as well as the Coloured identity to be scrapped.

In 2018, the group slept inside a coffin at the Eastern Cape premier’s office to highlight crime and gang violence in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas. 

Khoisan activist Christian Martin and fellow activists are campaigning for the zoo to be shut down. 

The activists entered a cage at Beacon Bay Retail Park on Monday morning and will make it their home for the next 11 days. 

The group will also undertake a vegan diet sponsored by vegan communities.

Martin has previously said that the East London Zoo run by Buffalo City Metro Municipality (BCMM), needed a radical re-think about the ongoing suffering of the zoo’s animals. 

Martin said the jaguar had spent more than 24 months in a wire cage, not much bigger than a suburban swimming pool, containing a slimy trench, a pole structure and no shaded trees. 

According to reports one of the bears at the zoo had to be euthanised after becoming paralysed in its hind legs. 

Martin said the zoo did nothing for conservation awareness or education as the jaguar was kept in a tiny enclosure far from its natural habitat.

“As the Khoi-San people, we strongly condemn this practice and echo the call for the immediate relocation of the jaguar and other animals and the immediate closure of this zoo. The Khoi-San further condemns undomesticated, non-human creatures to be displayed for others curiosity and amusement, as it is clear that it is only for monetary gain.”

The Khoisan activists together with Ban Animal Trade (BAT), likened the zoo to a ‘homeland’ and Robben Island. They said that they believed it was outdated and should be banned and written out of municipal by laws in East London and South Africa at large.

“This group believes that animals are punished to these animal homelands, like in East London, under the pretense of being educational but as was with the case of Sarah Baartman being put in a cage, it is just to fulfil the need for humans to satisfy their curiosity, to show power over these animals and to generate income against their will,” said Martin. 

“The only education that these animals have taught us as the Khoi and San and BAT is that if you can’t generate income for the Zoo you are going to be disposed off and replaced, as was the case of the two bears who died before this bear that was killed by an injection.”

Martin said the activists and BAT will celebrate human rights day on behalf of the animals to highlight that animals have rights too.

Meanwhile, the activists also called upon churches to rally behind the course based on Biblical scriptures.

The group also called upon communities to not support the East London Zoo and other zoos country wide.

African News Agency (ANA)