Chief Khoisan SA with Khoisan headman Milano Gordon from Pretoria, in their tent outside the Union Buildings.
Pretoria - The Khoisan group, which has camped on the lawns of the Union Buildings for a month now, on Tuesday declared independence and self-governance from government.

Led by Chief Khoisan SA, they said they would “self-govern” as of Tuesday, after failing to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa, to whom they had hoped to present their grievances. The group of adults and children walked from Port Elizabeth and Durban to Pretoria at the end of November.

“What we are demanding is to be recognised as the first nation, we want all those demands addressed in black and white, and implemented as soon as possible,” Chief Khoisan SA said on Tuesday.

Among the list of demands is that their languages be made official.

They also want land, in addition to the scrapping of the Land Claims Act.

Chief Khoisan SA said that after failing to get the attention of the president, they were in the process of lobbying support from overseas to put pressure on the government.

He said this was one of the many new strategies they could use to intensify their struggle this year.

“What we are basically saying to the government is that as of today, because they have not adhered to the calls of our nation, we declare ourselves self-governed.

“The president promised to come back to us, what we are asking ourselves is if it was a lie or a just a political trick.

Officials from the Presidency, and a delegation of senior officials from the Ministry of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs have met the group in an attempt to receive the notice intended for Ramaphosa.

But leader Chief Khoisan SA said on Tuesday that they had refused to hand it over, to make it clear that they had all the time in the world to wait for recognition.

The Presidency said the government had indicated to the group that with regard to the recognition of the Khoisan, there was a parliamentary process to consider the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill for the group to take advantage of, to make its voice heard and participate in shaping the legislation.

The group was also advised to work closely with the National Khoisan Council.

But Chief Khoisan SA said they had made it clear to the government that the National Khoisan Council remained null and void to them, as it did not represent their demands.

“On the issue of the Traditional Bill, we made it clear to them that the bill does not tell us that we are the first nation, it brings all traditional leaders together, but we are indigenous leaders,” Chief Khoisan SA said.

The group said they would continue to camp at the Union Buildings until Ramaphosa gave in to their demands.

Pretoria News