Pretoria - Leader of the Khoisan group camping at Union Buildings for three years, Chief Khoisan SA, has been arrested for planting dagga in the area.
According to members of his group, Chief Khoisan SA was arrested with three others who joined the camp eight months ago, for the same reason early yesterday.
The small group of Khoisan community members has camped in tents just metres from the towering statue of former president Nelson Mandela.
They have been demanding a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa concerning issues of recognition, land, language and restoring identity.
Chief Khoisan’s wife, Queen Cynthia Triegardt, told Pretoria News that the dagga plants had been there for about three years.
Triegardt said about 70 gun-wielding police officers were present during her husband’s arrest.
“The king tried by all means to prevent the police from taking out the plants, but four officers dragged him out of the garden to the Mandela statue, naked as he was.
“We’ve been using dagga for medicinal purposes for a very long time, and people come to us when they are sick every day.”
Triegardt said they were upset that nobody from the president’s office has bothered to talk to them in all the time they have lived there.
“I am very cross. We have been here since November 2018 and Ramaphosa has never even taken a minute of his time to address or acknowledge our presence, yet they now have the nerve to bring in police to torment us.
“They even ransacked our camp trying to find illegal stuff so we can also be arrested. This has traumatised our family, including our son who is in Grade 9. He did not even go to school because he is upset and traumatised,” she said.
Chief Peter Paul Lucas, who has also camped at the Union Buildings for most of the time, said the fact that police only came yesterday to remove a plant that had been there three years ago was questionable.
“Why are they only removing it now? It is clear that they do not want us to stay here. They know they will be in bad books and the whole world will know that South Africa is not ruled by a government but a bunch of gangsters,” he said.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Netshiunda said four people, three men and one woman, aged between 22 and 54, were arrested by the police at the Union Buildings during a multidisciplinary and intelligence-driven operation.
“They were charged with dealing in dagga, illegal planting and cultivation of dagga as well as failure to wear a mask in public when ordered to do so by a police officer.
“They will appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court in due course,” Netshiunda said.