Khoisan protest from PE to parliament – on foot

Hendrick Mphande

A KHOISAN chief and three others are planning a walk from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town to highlight the “oppression and marginalisation” of the Damasonque and Damasqua tribes.

The Damasonque tribe is from the city’s northern areas, while the Damasqua are mainly in the Langkloof.

The Khoisan chief, who would only be referred to as “Khoisan SA”, headman Patrick Delport, 51, Charmaine Booysen 40, and Shane Plaatjies, 18, all from the northern areas, have been training intensively for the walk of more than 700km to present a petition to parliament.

Some of them have been walking for up to four hours a night to prepare for the trip.

Khoisan SA said although he had previously walked a distance of about 200km, the walk to the Mother City would be a true test of their endurance.

“I am healthy enough at the age of 46. I have been eating garlic the whole of this week. And spiritually, I have burnt incense to get our ancestors to accompany us on the journey in case we get tired along the way,” he said.

One of the reasons for the adventure was to copy their ancestors who used to walk long distances.

The small group will set off at 6am on Saturday from Timothy Valley, near Booysen Park. They will then walk through Bloemendal and Arcadia to Stanford Road, before turning onto the N2 leading to Cape Town. Their first stop will be in the Jeffreys Bay/Humansdorp area, where they will stay overnight.

Their aim is to cover between 70km and 80km a day, with their arrival expected in Cape Town on April 24. They will present a petition with a list of their grievances to parliament the next day.

“We want to bring to their attention the plight of the Khoisan and Boesman [Bushmen] people. Our rights have been trampled and violated,” Khoisan SA said.

Their grievances include that their language – Khoekhoe-khoewaab – is not among the 11 official languages and that they have been excluded from affirmative action and black economic empowerment policies.

Delport said he was not afraid of the distance as he had walked a lot when he was in the army. “I feel like I am up to the challenge. I train for four hours each night and am looking forward to this.”

The four return on April 28, but have no intention of walking all the way back again, saying they would take a bus or hitch a lift.

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