DEPUTY MINISTER OBED BAPELA LAUNCH OF AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS: COMMISSION ON KHOI-SAN MATTERS
CAPE TOWN – THE CAPE SUN HOTEL
25 MARCH 2022
INKOSIKAZI MHLAULI CHAIRPERSON NHTKL
KGOSI SEATLHOLO DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON NHTKL
TRADITIONAL AND KHOISAN LEADERS (PHYSICAL AND VIRTUAL)
CHAIRPERSONS OF KZN & FREE STATE NHTKL
MEMBERS OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
MR CECIL LE FLUER CHAIRPERSON ON THE NKC
COMMISSIONER PROF NICO ADAM BOTHA CHAIRPERSON NKC
COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS BENNETT DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON
COMMISSIONER PROF (RET) EDNA VAN HARTE
COMMISSIONER NOKUBONGA MAZIBUKO-NGIDI
COMMISSIONER SCHOEMAN CRL COMMISSION
DIRECTOR GENERALS (PHYSICAL AND VIRTUAL)
CEO CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA
Let me open by Quoting the former President Thabo Mbeki, “I am an African. I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land”. “I Am an African” speech delivered on 8 May 1996.
The Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act, 2019 (TKLA) was signed into law by the President to commence on 01 April 2021.
The Act makes provision for the statutory recognition of Khoi-San communities and leaders. At the same time, it addresses the shortcomings of the previous laws.
Important provisions of the Act:
- Provision is made for the establishment of a Commission on Khoi-San Matters.
- This Commission will deal with applications for the recognition of Khoi-San communities and leaders and make recommendations to the Minister in this regard.
- The Commission consists of experts in inter alia the history, customs and customary law of the Khoi-San.
Today marks a significant milestone as we launch the Commission on the Khoi-San matters, it is an important milestone that all members of the Khoi-San communities will have an equally fair opportunity to present and provide evidence-based information about their chieftaincy to be recognized as a community and leaders respectively.
The launch of the Commission in Cape Town has historical significance dating back to 1652 from the first time that the white settlers arrived in South Africa, on the Cape under the control of the Dutch East India company. The settler’s arrival dismantled the lifestyle of the Koi-San people, and the variety of Bantu-speaking peoples who practiced both agriculture and cattle-grazing.
We meet here today to take yet another important step in restoring the dignity of the Khoi-San people. The Khoi-San have suffered both in life and in death, in the hands of those who viewed them as not worthy of humane and decent treatment.
It is important that an emphasizes is made to the fact that South Africa is comprised of different ethnic such as (AmaZulu, AmaXhosa, baBapedi, ba-Tswana, ama-Ndebele, Basotho, ba-Venda, ba-Tsonga and ama-Swati) and this recognition of Khoi-San Leaders will also make provision for their recognition as an ethnic group in the country. The Khoi-San becomes the last ethnic group to be recognized through the legislation.
Government has taken a bold step to correct the historical injustices meted out against the Khoi-San communities. The Commission processes will strengthening Nation Building, National Healing, and Social Cohesion. Let us celebrate this important occasion as we once more emphasize the point that, as South African’s we are one nation, one people, united in our diversity.
However, I have to make mention here today, kungabi ngathi siyafihla, the matter of the people who have been camping in Union Building South Lawns. I wish to outline that there has been engagements with a few members of the Khoi-San community led by Mr Khoisan South Africa, who are camped on the South Lawns of the Union Buildings, Pretoria, with a list of demands on complex matters which the group wants government to address. The President has meet them, the Minister in the Presidency our DG, as well as other Senior Government leaders, meet with them, they have presented a list of demands they need to be addressed immediately.
Their memorandum called for the following:
- a) Recognition of the Khoisan First Nation Status.
- b) Recognition of Khoisan language(s) and designation as official languages.
- c) Government to give the land back to the actual owners who are the KhoiSan, and to scrap the land reform policy that land claims should only be limited to land taken through the 1913 Land Act; and
- d) Government to remove the word “coloured” in all forms of government documentation and replace it with the word “Khoi-San”.
In spite of the Presidency updating the group on progress made by government in response to demands that the group first presented in December 2017, Mr Khoi-San SA alleges that the group want to declare independence and self-governance. The government representatives who have met with them in recent days have outlined to the group the steps government has taken to respond to the demands.
We are reaffirming that the South African nation is a product of many streams of culture and history; that our future is linked, and that South Africa belong to all who live in it. Yesterday the Deputy Minister of Land Reform and myself, with Deputy Minister of Constitutional Development tendering his apology, we meet as part of a nationwide consultation process with leaders of the National Khoi-San Council as well as other Khoi-San Leaders. A follow-up meeting would be held in Bloemfontein on the first week of April 2022.
To consult on the legislative issues regarding land reform, the group has been advised to participate in the transparent public participation processes on land reform that are unfolding under the auspices of government. Mr Khoi-San raises demands and when we engage as resolve some of the demands he resorts to adding to his lists of demands.
The process of recognition has been in totality addressed by the TKLA, the issue of Land we are consulting with Traditional and Khoi-San leaders. On the demands on language, a Khoekhoegowab Dictionary Glossarium has been developed and 500 copies of this dictionary have been distributed.
- A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by PANSALB with the National Arts Council on further development and research on the language and culture of Khoi-San communities, by the department of Arts and Culture.
- A Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Traditional Affairs with Namibia on a working relationship to develop, protect and train educators who will be able to educate children on the language and culture of the Khoi-San communities.
Mr Khoisan SA and his group are encouraged to interact with the Commission on all matters of recognition he can contribute to the current consultation processes.
Today’s launch is part of government efforts to help integrate the Khoi-San communities, their heritage into the broader cultural heritage of our country, through the process of recognition as stipulated by the TKLA.
The commission will also strengthen our efforts to ensure that the stories reflecting the Khoi-San heritage are part of country’s new and inclusive narrative, of where we come from and where we are headed, as an inclusive community.
The significance of the launch will also help us preserve the Khoi-San heritage, their indigenous knowledge systems, their ways of life and their languages, in a similar process that the Ndebele’s undertook to ensure that their language is not lost and is part of written heritage.
I hope that this process will culminate in the development of the National Khoi- San Heritage Route, where we identify sites, events and individuals that are of significance to the Khoi-San heritage.
I call upon all members of the Khoi-San communities to be involved in the commission by presenting their legitimate claim, this will allow them to tell their chieftaincy stories in their own words and such information would in future be used for historical and education purposes.
While we are satisfied with the process of the commission, we reiterate that the door is not closed for until all applicants are given a fair opportunity to make their claim. I can assure that the Commission comprises of a diverse competent individual with the most relevant experience.
This we are doing to ensure that the process to document, preserve and promote the Khoi and San heritage is as inclusive and as comprehensive as possible. We, therefore, pledge that in the launch of the Commission, it will be characterized by: Fairness, Unbiased, Uncompromising and Accessible.
I wish to edge that all Khoi-San communities take advantage of this process and make it meaningful through their involvement.
In addition, we will pay attention to improving working relations between government at all levels and the representatives of the Khoi and San people, let us continue to use our diversity as a source of strength. Let us remember that what unites us far outweighs that which divides us.
Inspired by the National Development Plan; Vision for 2030, let us say to one another: “I cannot be without you, without you this South African community is an incomplete community, without one single person, without the region and the continent we are not the best that we can be.”
We look forward to the findings as well as the recommendations of the Commission to be presented to the Minister of COGTA.
I wish the Commissioners a successful term, and I am also making a commitment that next year together April 2023 with the Commission we will travel together to the United Nation to report of the achievements as a country on matters of the recognition of the Khoi-San.
Let me emphasize these words “Africa’s story has been written by others; we need to own our problems and solutions and write our story”. President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame.
This is the time that the Khoi-San Communities should rise up to participate in the Commission processes and re-write their own History… this process as government we commit to assist and ensure that it is successful.