South African police on Jan. 12 arrested the leader of the indigenous Khoisan community, as well as three others, for growing cannabis plants near President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office in Pretoria.
Police dragged a man who calls himself King Khoisan across the presidential lawn before arresting him and two other men and one woman.
In a statement, police confirmed the four arrests for charges of “dealing in dagga, illegal plantation and cultivation of dagga, as well as failure to wear a face mask in public when ordered to do so by a police officer.”
Dagga is the local name for the cannabis plant.
“Police… you have declared war. We have been here peacefully. We are coming for you,” King Khoisan warned the police as they arrested him, according to AFP News.
Some members of the Khoisan group have camped outside Ramaphosa’s office for over three years to campaign for the official recognition of their language, as well as other issues including land and the restoration of their identity.
While situated there, the group has planted cannabis in the vegetable garden.
King Khoisan’s wife Queen Cynthia told South African news site IOL she was “very cross” of the arrests.
“We’ve been using dagga for medicinal purposes for a very long time and people come to us when they are sick on a daily basis,” Cynthia said.
“We’ve 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 bring in police to torment us,” Cynthia further said.
The top South African court decriminalized the personal use of cannabis in 2018.
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