On Wednesday, 22 May 2013, on the topic of human rights, and during the Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues, Prof James Anaya, Mr Cecil Le Fleur, delivered a statement on behalf of the National Khoisan Council in South Africa. In the statement, Mr Le Fleur called upon the South African government to urgently implement the recommendations of the former Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues, Prof Rodolfo Stavenhagen set out in his report on his mission to South Africa. He said that although South Africa is now a free country, it cannot be a true democracy if the Khoi-San peoples are not afforded the right to self-determination as envisaged by the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
In Mr Le Fleur acknowledged the progress made on the proposed Bill on Traditional Affairs by the South African government thus far, but expressed concern about the length of time it is taking the government to enact this legislation. In addition, the proposed Bill does not adequately address the historical differences between the Khoi-San peoples and the other dominant tribes in South Africa, and the enactment of the Bill in its current form would lead to an unfair and inequitable outcome.
In conclusion, the statement called for the following recommendations:
- The leadership and governance structures of the dominant tribes were recognized by our democratic dispensation 18 years ago. However, the Khoi-San as the first indigenous peoples, are still struggling 18 years after the dismantling of apartheid to get the same recognition from our South African government. We call upon the government to enact legislation that recognizes the Khoi-San peoples’ indigenous institutions and leadership, without further delay.
- We ask for formal recognition of our collective land and heritage rights defined in terms of our ancestral territories including use; access and management rights;
- We ask that government set up a Ministry to deal specifically with Khoi-San affairs, led by skilled Khoi-San persons in cooperation with other partners;
- We ask that Affirmative Action policies not continue to marginalize and discriminate against the Khoi-San through the continued stigmatization of being labelled Coloured through the system of apartheid as mentioned by Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Prof. Rodolfo Stavenhagen’s Mission to South Africa of 2005;.
In response to the statement, the Special Rapporteur, Prof James Anaya, acknowledged the concerns of the Khoi-San Peoples and undertook to raise these concerns with the South African government.