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Report creates hope for Khoi and San

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The release of the report represented the hard work the community had put in over the years in fighting for acknowledgement.

Picture: Khanyisile Ngcobo

THE GOVERNMENT has been given a year to fast-track land redistribution for the Khoi and San as well as the removal of their classification as coloured.

These are some of the recommendations made by the South African Human Rights Commission.

This followed two years of investigative hearings that took place in the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng, following complaints against a number of violations that range from lack of access to basic services, land redistribution, the protection of heritage and cultural rights and equitable employment opportunities.

The commission’s Chris Nissan said they had sent copies of their report to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the four premiers of the provinces where the hearings took place and departments that would have to make a contribution to putting into effect their recommendations.

The recommendations include:

The state, through the Presidency and Department of Arts and Culture, must take steps on or before March 31, 2019 towards removal of the forceful categorisation of Khoi and San peoples as “coloured”.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform together with the Office of the Presidency are required to take steps to expedite the process of restitution for indigenous communities, in light of the recognition of the centrality of access to land, traditional territories and natural resources for the fulfilment of other rights of the Khoi and San. The department is required to provide the commission with a report within 12 months setting out the steps taken.

The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, through the minister, must ensure before 18 months of issuing of this report that official recognition of indigenous communities, through legislative and administrative processes, are equitable to the recognition of other traditional communities, and must not place an undue burden on Khoi and San communities desiring to receive official recognition from the state.

The Department of Basic Education must develop policies which provide for the education of children in their mother tongue or indigenous languages.

The Department of Labour and other relevant departments should consider the development of special legislative and policy measures for the advancement of Khoi and San peoples, noting their historical discrimination and continued marginalisation.

Graeme Shiverts said of paramount importance was the scrapping of the classification of the Khoi and San as coloured as well as the implementation of job equity in the Western Cape.

“We have the right as indigenous people and custodian rights to be recognised, but when we fill out forms we are not recognised but rather categorised by the apartheid classification.

“Another issue has been how we have been marginalised in terms of job equity, especially in the Western Cape and nobody is saying anything on the matter.”

Chief Tania Kleinhans-Cedras said the release of the report represented the hard work the community had put in over the years in fighting for acknowledgement.

“It is very late in democracy when you think about the human rights violations that have taken place against our people for so long but this is a step in the right direction.”