Self-proclaimed king of the Khoisan, King Khoisan SA and his entourage say they will continue camping at the Union Buildings until President Cyril Ramaphosa meets them.
Khoisan SA arrived at the Union Buildings two and a half years ago to exert pressure on the government to recognise the Khoisan as the first people of South Africa.
They also want their ancestors’ land back, to be classified as Khoisan and not coloured, and for the Khoekhoegowab language to be officialised.
The group has rejected the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act which came into effect in April. The act aims to protect, promote, legitimise, and restore the integrity of traditional and Khoi-San leadership.
King Khoisan and his entourage arrived at the Union Buildings in November 2018. The group set up camp on the lush lawns, just right next to the towering statue of former President Nelson Mandela. The 53-year-old father of three was hoping this move would force the President to accede to their demands.
Three years on, one can easily mistake what used to be the centrepiece of the gardens for a campsite. The group has made themselves comfortable with additional tented structures and built a boma and fire pit for the cold nights. There’s also a vegetable garden with herbs such as marijuana and some livestock.
VIDEO: Small Khoisan community continues camping at Union Buildings lawns
“We’ve now also started on vegetation, a bit of everything. From your brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot, onion and lots of others. We also have a garden for our herbs which is important to keep ourselves happy. We have also got some livestock, chickens” says King Khoisan.
When King Khoisan arrived in Pretoria, little did he know it would take him years to return to his Bloemendal home in Port Elizabeth.
He now survives on donations from members of the public. As a last resort to meet the President, the campers are now campaigning to have more people occupying the lawns.
“It is important that we bring all South Africans together, from August the 9th and after that we plan sort of national coming together between 24 September and 26 September where we would be calling people across the country that they can spend 2-3 days with us from there we will put pressure from the various province” says King Khoisan.
Three tents away from King Khoisan’s, you’ll find Mxolisi Madiba. The 30-year-old from Umtata in the Eastern Cape has been camping here for a year and a half now. He ditched his home for a small tent with only a mattress and one thin blanket.
“We need justice for all, we want peace, we want freedom. If there are a lot of tents here, you see how many camps are here. Is there any peace, it portrays that there’s no peace, some people are crying? I want the government to fix this” says Mxolisi Madiba.
Some aggrieved members of the public seem to have drawn inspiration from the campers. They include the Moloto Railway Corridor Concerned Residents group which has set up a white marquee. They are demanding the re-reinstatement of the Moloto Railway Corridor.
There’s also Marquard Pienaar, a former senior management lecturer at UNISA who is aggrieved with how his dismissal was dealt with in the labour court.
“I could only do that by coming here and opening a petition with regards to corruption at the courts which affected me negatively” says Marquard Pienaar.
The Presidency has remained silent on the matter and referred it back to the Public Works department which manages the gardens. Last year the department attempted to remove the campers through the courts but the eviction never happened. King Khoisan says government’s silence speaks volumes.
“I feel that government by not responding is not just negative against us. We being here should be an eye-opener to all South Africans. Because if the government don’t listen to us, it means it won’t listen to all those that brought GBV memorandums and others. I think that for all South Africans, you need to look at this from a different angle” says King Khoisan.
The Department of Public Works did not respond after countless attempts to get a comment.
VIDEO: Khoisan members camp at the Union Buildings