Warrant of arrest issued for King Khoisan SA who failed to appear in court on dagga charges

  • King Khoisan SA and Donovan Manuel have been charged with possession and dealing in dagga. 
  • Both men were camping at the Union Buildings when they were arrested in January 2022.
  • On Tuesday, a warrant of arrest was authorised for Manuel after he failed to appear in court.

A warrant of arrest has been issued for one of the Khoisan men camping outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria after he failed to appear in court on drug possession charges.

King Khoisan SA and Donovan Manuel were arrested at the National Key Point in January, after growing dagga at their makeshift kraal, which was set up near the Nelson Mandela statue.

Both men were charged for dealing and possession of dagga.

Khoisan SA and Manuel were due to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, however, the National Prosecuting Authority said Khoisan SA was a no-show.

The court authorised a warrant for his arrest, while the matter was postponed to November for trial. The court also heard that there was an issue with the Khoi language translator and that the laboratory report of the seized dagga was not yet available.

After their first court appearance, Khoisan SA said his arrest and the laws that led to him being placed in a police van “was a smack in the face for the first nation”.

“They thought we were going to follow their laws. Their laws of smoking dagga put us in prison. This cannot be fair,” Khoisan SA said.

READ | King Khoisan SA believes arrest a ploy to silence his protest, remove him from Union Buildings

The inference was the Khoisan could not abide by such laws because their ancestors had been smoking dagga long before Europeans anchored on the shores of southern Africa.

Khoisan SA said the dagga was used for medicinal purposes and added that the arrests would not deter them from planting more dagga at the Union Buildings.

He was part of a small group of protesters who have staged a sit-in protest for more than three years after making the arduous 1 200km journey from the Eastern Cape on foot in November 2019.

The protesters are demanding that:

  • The Khoisan people be recognised as the first indigenous nation of South Africa;
  • The label “coloured” as a reference to people of a mixed race be removed from all official documents;
  • Kwazi-Khoe be listed as an official language; and
  • The Khoisan be given land and resources to continue their cultures and traditions.

This is the group’s second bid to have their demands met. In 2017, Khoisan SA and three others made a similar journey to the Union Buildings in an attempt for recognition. Things took a dangerous turn when the four of them embarked on a hunger strike that lasted close to a month