Khoisan struggle continues at Union Buildings after two years
Pretoria - The struggle for recognition by King Khoisan and his troops remains undeterred – this despite being officially recognised by legislation.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who met a delegation of the National Khoi-San Council (NKC), said Khoi and San leaders would for the first time be officially recognised and serve in the national and provincial houses.
But King Khoisan, who along with his delegation have camped at lawns of the Union Buildings since 2018, said they were not moved by the announcement and would continue to camp out.
He said the rejection was based on the lack of acknowledgement of first nation status, outstanding land claims and the Khoisan identity. He also insisted that they did not want to be classified as coloured but as Khoisan, San, or Bushmen.
The lack of unity among the various Khoisan groups had often led to disputes over the legitimacy of the rightful traditional leaders. “The act does not emphasise land and we are saying as the first nation the land belongs to us. The act also does not talk about the issues that we brought forward when we first came in 2017,” he said.
The group has vowed to camp under the statue of Nelson Mandela until the government strikes a deal with them. “The government is reluctant to meet the right people concerning the issues of recognition, land, language and restoring of identity. They always failed to listen to our recommendations on how we want to be included.”
The group said the focus was now to make provision for the winter season and keep warm. “We would rather focus on the chilling temperatures than be bothered by the act,” he said.
The council’s (NKC) chairperson Cecil le Fleur said it was an excellent achievement because Khoi and San people had never been formally recognised in colonial times, during apartheid and even in the new dispensation. “With formal recognition from the government, he said the next step was a seat in Parliament’s House of Traditional Leaders, which would be created through municipal and provincial structures,” he said.
Le Fleur said the first step is for the Commission of Khoi and San Issues to be established.
The commission will be composed of judges, historians and even anthropologists with specific skills and knowledge of the traditions and cultures.
Khoi and San leaders would need to make submissions to this commission to gain formal recognition as an indigenous community. “Those who are recognised will be able to form their own traditional councils, and in a municipal region there may be many such councils in different towns in a municipal area,” said Le Fleur.