Rastas closer to ‘legalizing it’

2012-11-19 13:46
Loyiso Sidimba
Things could be getting a whole lot rosier for South Africa’s Rastafarian community.

A Chapter 9 institution wants laws relaxed so Rastas can carry at least 100 grams of marijuana at all times.

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities says the ban on marijuana, or what Rastafarians call ganja, is inconsistent with the Constitution.

“Ganja should be legalised, not as a drug, but as a holy herb for healing and incense during spiritual ceremonies,” the commission says in documents seen by City Press.

These will be submitted to Parliament in January.

The commission says police prejudice, discrimination and harassment of Rastafarians must end.

Yeoville Rastafarian elder, Ras Menelek Holde Selassie, said the community was still harassed by police.

Born Sizwe Sizani in Soweto, Ras Menelek told City Press he left home to practise the Rastafarian religion.

“I’ve been strictly vegetarian from the age of 20,” he said.

Ras Menelek said he taught young Rastafarian converts as an elder.

“We should have our own schools where we’ll teach kids our own way,” the father of three said.

The commission also wants school children to be allowed to have dreadlocks.

It also suggests that Rastafarian priests be given access to prisons for preaching, become recognised marriage officers and be part of
interfaith prayers.

If the commission has its way, six Rastafarian holidays will also be recognised and employers will be forced to honour them like other religious holidays in South Africa.

Other recommendations include the recognition of the Rastafarian language in schools and state land being set aside for Rastafarian places of worship.

It also has stern words for the media, saying journalists must stop stereotyping Rastafarians, and wants government to invest money to celebrate reggae music.