The Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), noted the recent occupation of the Union Building lawns by three members of communities of the Khoi-San. This act by these three people is regrettable as there are better mechanisms in place that will assist us to iron out issues of concern and disagreement.
The 1996-Constitution provides an extensive framework for the protection, enforcement and advancement of the interests of all South Africans, thus including the Khoi-San. Many of the rights contained in the Bill of Rights are of relevance for the expression of the identity of communities through culture, religion, language and education. Several rights have a bearing (directly or indirectly) on the Khoi-San communities. The SA Human Rights Commission Report of 1999 (p 7), stated that reference to indigenous peoples in Africa should refer to those indigenous peoples whose rights in relation to other African Indigenous peoples are not adequately addressed.
Government continues to engage various stakeholders across the country in line with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa which recognises the institution of traditional leadership and the need for continued recognition of African traditional communities and African customary law.
Khoi-San communities and leaders however have never before been recognised in accordance with legislation, but with the introduction of the democratic dispensation, there has since been a move to change this situation. This was confirmed by the Chairperson of the National Khoi-San Council (NKC), Mr Cecil Le Fleur. He also indicated that those who are camping at the Union Buildings didn’t have a mandate from the NKC to act on its behalf, neither did they consulted with the NKC on the matter.
Government has paid particular attention to the accommodation and recognition of the Khoi-San. With a view to giving effect to this objective, Government continues to work with and support the NKC that serves as a single body with which government consult on all issues relating to the Khoi-San.
The NKC consists of 30 members representing the five main groupings of the Khoi-San society (Griqua, San, Cape Khoi, Koranna and Nama). They have been involved in the development of the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill (TKLB) which was recently passed by the National Assembly and is now in the National Council of Provinces for concurrence. This Bill will, for the first time ever, make provision for the statutory recognition of the Khoi-San leaders and communities.
With such strong working relationship between government and the NKC, it is regrettable that the few people that have been camping at the Union Buildings are not acting with a mandate from the NKC.
The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr Des van Rooyen calls on all the Khoi-San people to work within the established framework and structures. The Minister has also committed government to continue supporting all people in South Africa, including the Khoi-San.
CoGTA Head of Communications
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