Pretoria - Four Khoisan activists who staged a live-in protest at the Union Buildings in Pretoria left in high spirits on Sunday, expressing gratitude to the thousands of South Africans who came over to support their cause.
The Khoisan tribesmen resolved to end their 24-day protest after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa came out to meet them. For weeks, the group has been appealing for President Jacob Zuma or his deputy to come and receive their memorandum. They also made an appearance when the ruling African National Congress held its elective conference in Johannesburg last week, but were blocked from entering the venue.
“The deputy president came to us and he took the memorandum, he signed it. That was why we were here the whole time. We are glad about this, because this will now mean we will be with our families for Christmas time. What is also positive about our staying here is we have basically united a lot of races, coming together,” 49-year-old tribe leader Chief Khoisan SA told African News Agency.
“There was support from everybody, and that was a positive thing about this.”
In their memorandum, the indigenous Khoisan tribe is demanding recognition from the South African government as “first citizens” of the republic.
“We are asking for first nation status. [We want] our language to be made an official language. We want the Land Claim [Act] of 1913 to be scrapped because it is withholding us from making any land claims. The fourth one is that we want the coloured identity to be scrapped. That is not who we are,” said Chief Khoisan SA.
He said he holds no grudges regarding the time members of the Presidency took before meeting them.
“I’m actually more happy because through the time that we have been here, a lot of people have visited us. A lot of people have given positive feedback, saying 'guys we are behind you, we support you’. That is the positive thing about it,” said Chief Khoisan SA.
The group of four walked from the Eastern Cape province to Pretoria, determined to have a word with Zuma or Ramaphosa.
As they left the Union Buildings on Sunday, Chief Khoisan SA said he had only kind words to share with his family in Port Elizabeth regarding the residents of Pretoria.
“I will be telling them that the people of Pretoria welcomed me very well, and I’m glad for that,” he said with a smile.
One of the “Khoisan 4” group, Christian Martin, was last week admitted to hospital after experiencing chest pains. The men have been on hunger strike for weeks. On Sunday, Martin was in high spirits as he left the Union Buildings in a car, heading to the airport to catch a flight.
“I need to start by thanking and praising God first. The beauty of this whole situation is that myself and the Chief have been in church this morning, praying for a breakthrough. When we put our phones on, we were flooded with messages about Cyril being down here with the guys. We couldn’t believe it. We are just so excited and happy to be going home. The first thing I want to do is just to pick up my grandchild and hug him,” said Martin.
He also expressed gratitude to the media for the extensive coverage of their protest.
“If it was not for the media, I promise you, we wouldn’t have been thus far. So media is good.”
African News Agency (ANA)