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S.African indigenous king arrested for growing 'weed' at the presidency

King Khoisan South Africa (C) holds on to a marijuana plant as South African Police Services (SAPS) members drags him as they try to confiscate the plants during a raid   -  
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PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP or licensors

Cannabis

South African police uproot a cannabis garden grown by indigenous Khoisan activists outside President Cyril Ramaphosa's office for over three years. Police arrest a Khoisan leader who clings to a shoulder-height cannabis plant as they drag it across the presidential lawn in Pretoria

South African police Wednesday uprooted cannabis plants grown by indigenous activists who have camped outside President Cyril Ramaphosa's office for more than three years, AFP reporters saw.

Their leader, wearing a traditional loincloth, clung to a shoulder-height plant as police dragged it across the presidential lawn in Pretoria before arresting him.

"Police... you have declared war," he shouted. "We have been here peacefully. We are coming for you," warned the man, who calls himself King Khoisan South Africa.

The Khoisan were formerly known as Bushmen or Hottentots -- a name coined by Dutch settlers in the 17h century, reflecting the clicks characteristic of their languages.

During the raid, another activist yelled in Afrikaans at the police, asking them: "For plants? For plants? You are rubbish people in uniforms."

The group's tarpaulin tents have been a fixture on the emerald lawns of the South African president's office since 2018, when they began a campaign for official recognition of their languages.

One of the tents is just metres (yards) away from a giant bronze statue of Nelson Mandela, the country's first black president.

Around two dozen police, some in riot gear, others mounted on horseback and some with sniffer dogs, raided the small group.

Police did not respond to AFP's request for comment, but journalists heard officers on the scene saying the raid was over the cannabis planted some six months ago in the activists' vegetable garden.

In 2018, South Africa's top court decriminalised the private and personal use of cannabis in a landmark case that pitted law enforcement agencies against advocates of the plant, known locally as dagga.

South Africa's Khoisan community is thought to number in the hundreds of thousands.