South Africa is founded on stolen land, the Institute for the Restoration of the Aborigine of South Africa (Irasa) said on Wednesday.
Chairperson Tania Kleinhans-Cedras, who described herself as an “aboriginal Khoi San by birth”, said during a national hearing convened by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) that landowners were “squatting on the land of indigenous people”.
The hearing was convened following complaints to the SAHRC from Khoi, San, Nama, Griqua and Koranna communities about access to basic services, land, and the constitutionality of the indigenous groups in South Africa.
“When are we going to reclaim our ancestral land?” she asked, eliciting nods of agreement from the audience, most of whom were dressed in traditional attire of animal skins and headdresses.
“Our association with our ancestral land was disrupted by colonial invasion. We did not consent to the establishment of the Republic of SA.”
Government is stealing land
She also slammed the sale of land by government for development. “They are not disposing of land. They are stealing,” an emotional Kleinhans-Cedras insisted.
Aboriginal communities, while classified as black, have not benefited from BEE and affirmative action as government’s focus is on “black so-called Africans”, she said.
“Rural and remote areas where a large percentage of the aboriginal people reside have not seen potential reinvestment other than the exploitation of our natural resources.”
Irasa was calling for an independent commission of inquiry into ancestral land claims and the supplying of Aboriginal Khoisan IDs “declaring our sovereignty by the government of SA as they are the perpetrators who reclassified us”, among other issues.
Ron Martin, chairperson of the SA First Peoples’ Museum Foundation, said that 21 years into democracy, there is “not one tangible piece of evidence” that recognised any symbol of Khoi and San heritage.
‘Indigenous’ debate on social media
He also referred to recent debates on social media which called into question whether the Khoi and San were the indigenous people. “There is no question,” he insisted.
The story of the indigenous people is also not part of mainstream history taught in schools because it’s “not fashionable”, Martin claimed.
He described the conflict between the Dutch and the indigenous people as “genocide”, which resulted in their losing their land to colonialists.
“If you’re in your kitchen and someone knocks on the door in your lounge, does it give them the right to move into your lounge because you don’t hear him?”
According to the government information website, the motto carried on the country’s Coat of Arms – !ke e:/xarra//ke – is written in the language of the /Xam people, and literally translates to ‘Diverse People Unite’.
The twin figures depicted are derived from images on the Linton Stone, a world-famous example of South African rock art.
“The Khoi San, oldest known inhabitants of our land, testify to our common humanity and heritage as South Africans,” a description on the site read.
“The figures are depicted in an attitude of greeting, symbolising unity. It also represents the beginning of the individual’s transformation into the greater sense of belonging to the nation and humanity.”
The hearing continues on Thursday. News24