By Emily Setona
QWAQWA – The Rastafarian community from Thabana Tsoana village came all the way to the Phuthaditjaba Magistrate Court to hand over a memorandum requesting that the South African Police Service (SAPS) and South African National Defense Force (SANDF) to treat their community with respect like all other citizens.
According to Ntsebeng Kotelo one of the organizers of the march; “The reason why we are gathered here is to hand in a memorandum asking for liberation and equality, the police and the soldiers treat us like criminals. Our brothers are often chased around and arrested. We don’t feel safe in our own community.”
There are several incidences of police brutality that have pushed the Rastafarian community to embark on this peaceful march to hand in a memorandum at the Phuthaditjaba Magistrate Court. Thato Lebaka a passerby who works near the court said he has never seen such a peaceful march and is supportive of such action because there is no violence and vandalism.
Another issue that was raised by Kotelo was the fact that the Rastafarian families lose their fathers because the police arrest the men for having dagga in their possession. This causes frustration in the Rastafarian community because the women must fend for themselves and their kids while their husbands are in jail.
Thapelo Mofokeng another member of the Rastafarian community says that what prompted this march was a recent incident where they saw one of their brethren being victimized by the police. “The local police themselves do not respect and obey the law that states that all citizens are free to practice any religion, culture, or belief system. They raid our homes and search for marijuana without a search warrant, and if they find any amount of dagga on us or our premises they arrest us,” Mofokeng said.
Lefa Sempe the court manager received the memorandum and agreed to hand it over to the senior magistrate for their attention and a response will be given to the Rastafarian community within seven working days.