Khoisan protest at Union Buildings enters into third year
Pretoria - The Khoisan protest at the Union Buildings to be recognised as the first nation of the country and rightful owners of the land continues into a third year.
Having endured a dark Christmas after the lights around their camp were switched off, they are even more determined to spend 2021 on the lawns of the iconic houses of government in the capital for as long as their demands are not met.
Leader of the group which sleeps in small tents near the Nelson Mandela statue, Chief Khoisan SA, said they were threatened to be removed from the premises with a court order in November but they still did not leave.
He said they found out that the Minister for Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, stopped whatever intentions officials had of using a court order to remove them, in favour of engagement with them.
“The bottom line is we are not going anywhere until the demands of our marginalised people are met. Currently we have seen some positive engagements and are happy with that.”
The protest started when the group arrived in Pretoria on foot from the Eastern Cape in 2018 to find out what had become of a memorandum of demands submitted during their first camp-out in 2017.
At the end of November they marked two years living on the lawns, and even have a small vegetable patch. “Switching off the lights before Christmas did not bother us at all, we are the bushmen, we don’t need lights,” Khoisan said.
“This year we will be marking year number three living here. We are going to be here for a long time if we don’t get what we want.
“We hope that this new year will bring some positive change and for once we can start making some strides to addressing the plight of my people.”
The chief said his people were also calling on the government and President (Cyril) Ramaphosa to scrap the term “Coloured” from its official documents and make the rare languages of the Khoisan people official South African languages.
“We want the removal of the word ‘Coloured’ because in 1991 they banned use of the word when they also banned the ‘K-word’. The fact that some people call themselves Coloured doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate term.”