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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Khoisan continue with land reclaiming in the Western Cape despite some pushback

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Cape town – Land occupations spearheaded by indigenous Khoisan groups continue in spite of some pushback.

Cochoqua Tribal Council with the Chainouqua, Hessequa and Outeniqua !Xam groups are leading the way for what it refers to as the reclaiming of land for indigenous peoples.

Cochoqua Khoisan tribe councillor Miles Jacob said the state had intended to interdict around 67 properties in the Western Cape.

But occupations driven by the collective were in mainly five areas: Tulbagh, Riviersonderend, Table Mountain, Plettenberg Bay and Grabouw. Jacobs said the state was not able to get a final interdict and not much has happened since.

“All these cases, except for Table Mountain, was covered by the intent of interdict by the state which was opposed. So the state has a provisional order but it’s not final.

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“So if the state sees new people going on to the land, they try to stop it, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But in all cases, there are permanent settlements now, the most active in Grabouw.

“We are assuming there are in excess of 100 people settled.”

A separate court case involving those arrested for occupying Cecilia Forest on Table Mountain from October 2020, was dismissed by the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions opting not to prosecute those arrested and charged with housebreaking, malicious damage to property and trespassing.

“There seems to be a ‘standoff’ between the KhoiSan and the national government about these occupations, with the Public Works minister discussing the issue with Barbara Creecy.

“Of the five active occupations, Knoflokskraal at Grabouw is very well established, the others less so. The government tries to stop the expansion of the settlements under the interim order, but it has no final order.

“There are currently no people on Table Mountain (according to the bail conditions of those arrested) but there are amicable discussions with the park management.”

Cochoqua Project Co-ordinator, Shaun MacDonald said the recent occupation of a site in Paarl’s Main Road, was originally earmarked for housing.

“The local authority/municipality then decided to allocate it for a cemetery. So our people, our indigenous community in Paarl have decided to reclaim the land for housing again.”

The group were there for about eight days from December 28 until law enforcement removed them.

A complaint was lodged against the mayor for the evictions, with MacDonald saying the intent was to reoccupy the site soon.

Drakenstein Municipality Community Services executive director Gerald Esau said: “Unsubstantiated allegations are that the mayor instructed the persons be removed, but that’s inaccurate.

“At no stage did the mayor issue any instruction. Law enforcement officials acted within their duties and within the law.”

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