Khoi and San communities to earn over R12 million from rooibos

South Africa’s Khoi and San communities are finally being recognised for their intellectual contributions to rooibos cultivation. However, according to Collin Louw, secretary general of the South African San Council, it was concerning to see the amount of infighting among the communities’ members over the funds they were due to be paid for the role they played in the sector.

Khoi and San communities to earn over R12 million from rooibos
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“Money destroys people. We have to be proud of the fact that we fought for this money and did not have to beg for it. But now people are only staring at the money and forgetting about the recognition,” Louw told Farmer’s Weekly.

Earlier this week, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy announced in a press statement that just over R12 million would be paid to the two communities as part of the Rooibos Benefit Sharing Agreement, which was signed in November 2019 by the department, the South African Rooibos Council, and the two communities.

The money had been raised by charging processors of rooibos an annual levy of 1,5% on farm gate prices, excluding VAT, according to a departmental press release.

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Louw said that while he was thankful for the acknowledgement of the San’s contribution to the industry, he was concerned over the impact that the money was having on the communities. “I am concerned that greed will divide the people. The money has not even been paid over yet, and has already caused a lot of strife among the beneficiaries and accusations that the money has been [stolen].”

In accordance with the agreement, the money would be divided between the two communities and paid into their respective trusts, the Khoi-Khoi Peoples’ Biodiversity and Rooibos Trust and the Andries Steenkamp ABS Trust.

“This was done in order to ensure that the capital and income paid would support and benefit all the beneficiaries in terms of the trust deeds,” Creecy said. Through these funds, the communities would be able to grow their economic opportunities.

In August 2021, the two communities appointed an independent levy administrator to ensure that they received all monies owed to them.

Louw said that once the money was paid over to the relevant trust, the council would meet with the various people of the San community. “We want this money to alleviate poverty, empower our people and help with primary and tertiary education.”

All members of the San community would have an opportunity to apply for a share of the money, and these applications would be assessed on a case-by-case basis, Louw said.