Human Rights Day will be commemorated all over South Africa today, Wednesday Sharpeville March 21, as a reminder of the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 and the struggle against apartheid.
The massacre took place in the Sharpeville township in Gauteng when the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) embarked on a protest against the passbooks that black people were forced
marched to the police station where they were to surrender themselves for defying the pass laws.
The 5000 protesters met a heavily armed police contingent at the station. A stand-off ensued.
According to South African History Online, “A policeman was accidentally pushed over and the crowd began to move forward to see what was happening. According to the police, protesters began to stone them and, without any warning, one of the policemen on the top of an armoured car panicked and opened fire. His colleagues followed suit. The firing lasted for approximately two minutes, leaving 69 people dead and, according to the official in-
quest, 180 people seriously wounded.”
Today we spend the day remembering those who were slain and the bravery they had to stand up against apartheid, and celebrating the rights all citizens enjoy in a democratic South Africa.
However, Kai Bi’a or Chief Hennie van Wyk of the Gorachouqua Tribe said the day to him is a reminder of the injustice the indigenous people of South Africa still face.
Political activist Chief Van Wyk began taking his indigenous heritage more seriously in 2003 and in 2010 became Chief of his Nama tribe, the Gorachouqua. He has been advocating for the rights of the indigenous people.
This includes the recognition of land and language rights.
There are five groups of indigenous people: the San, Nama, Griqua, Korana and Bushmen.
He said indigenous people have the right to fight for their place in the country
“Its’ not taking into account the mammoth impact of colonialism, apartheid and the new
dispensation on our people. Therefore, I see that every part
of the Khoi and the Bush-
men people’s lives are im-
pacted because of the environ-
ment they live in,” said Chief Van Wyk.
He referred to the “genocide” taking place on the Cape Flats and other coloured communities through drugs, gangsterism, the influx of arms and violence.
“While in the centre of Cape Town you find that people are in a very secure place and completely ignoring what is happening in this Cape Town. We can’t blame it on the present government but it seems the institutions which are supposed to protect us are not effective. Or is this an organised form of modern genocide that is
taking place to destroy the
validity and existence of the Khoi and the indigenous peo-
These are the questions Chief Van Wyk says he will continue to ask and he will continue to advocate for the rights of the indigenous people who, he said, are not recognised in South Africa.
“There’s no legislation to protect our human rights and we are not being accommodated in the constitution and neither is our language, which is considered to be part of the official languages.
“Research has been done up to 500 000 years ago and the very first people who walked on the southern part of Africa, migrating from the north, is the bushmen people and they travelled to the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape,” he said.
Chief Van Wyk encouraged indigenous people from all walks of life and from all over the globe to come to-
“The driving force of this country in the public and private sector is Khoi Khoi people. So I want to make a call that people should seriously claim back that proud identity of
their forefathers and not quietly sit passively. Read books, go to the libraries where there are a lot of archives and information.
Make use of it and claim back your indigenous status because we need the tools of knowledge to fight for a better South
Africa for the indigenous
people of South Africa – at school level, church level and every other place,” said Chief Van Wyk.