Khoi-San nation takes recognition fight to Union Buildings

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Three members of the Khoi-San nation are camping outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria, waiting for President Jacob Zuma or his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa to accept their memorandum.

Chief Khoi-San SA, leader of the Damasonqua tribe in the Eastern Cape, Shane Plaatjies and Brendon Billings have put up tents and slept on the lawns of the Union Building last night.

They have walked for three weeks and more than 1000 km from Port Elizabeth to get to Pretoria.

The sight of three members of the Khoi-San community, dressed in their traditional attire, sitting on jackal skins on the lawns of the Union Building in Pretoria, will make anyone look twice.

They put up their tents, rolled out their skins, brought their kudu horns for torches and are now waiting.

The leader of the Damasonqua tribe in the Eastern Cape, Chief Khoi-San SA says, “We are prepared to stay until Jacob Zuma or Cyril Ramaphosa comes and sign the memorandum. The reason why we walk to Pretoria, our journey already started in 2013 and this is our fifth memorandum and we are at a point where we are sick and tired of officials and ministers signing our memorandums and nothing gets done.”

During the four years since they have started walking to government buildings, their memorandum hasn’t changed, the leader elaborates, “We’ve actually got four demands that we are bringing in the form of a memorandum, the first demand is that we want government to recognise us as the first people of South Africa. The second demand is that our language the Khoekhoewaab is not an official language. It’s already on the coat of arms but it does not recognise us, that is rather strange. The third thing is we want land claims that date of 1913 to be scrapped because we had land before 1913, so we are with held from making any claim on land. And the fourth one is, we want the coloured identity to be scrapped, we are not coloured Call us Nama, Korana, Boesman, call us San but we are not coloureds.”

Khoi-San SA says the coloured label deprives them of equitable employment opportunities.

They walked more than a 1000 kilometres over three weeks in their traditional attire to bring their memorandum to the president.

“We actually had to encounter a lot of different weather situations. We had some heavy rain, heavy wind even. There was tremendous sun and we got burned, but the worse was on our way to Ventersburg we had to walk in hail for five kilometres and we looked at some of the cars that went through and they had dents but we are still fine,” Plaatjies explained.

On their way they were dependent on the goodwill of people for food, but once had to hunt a guinea-fowl because they were so hungry.

The Presidency spokesperson, Bongani Ngqulunga, says it is not aware of the matter, and will respond once it is furnished with more information.