Delegation to return spirit of Khoisan chief

Sports, recreation, arts and culture MEC Pemmy Majodina led a delegation to repatriate the spirit of Khoisan chief Dawid Stuurman in Australia at the weekend.

PROUDLY KHOISAN: MPL Christian Martin, left, and Chief Khoisan SA lead a group as they walk to Bhisho earlier this year

The delegation, which included members of the Stuurman family and MPL Christian Martin, plan to meet the Progressive Aboriginal Cultural Groups and share ideas on spiritual repatriation, which will be conducted through traditional rituals at the Central Railway Station in Sydney.

The rituals will be performed with South African umphafa tree branches which will carry Stuurman’s spirit when the delegation returns later this week.

This was released in a statement by the department on Thursday.

Stuurman was a political activist who was detained under the British colonial administration in South Africa in the 1800s and sent to Robben Island, from which he escaped three times.

He became an icon and formed a pivotal part of the Khoisan history. He was recaptured on the last occasion in 1820 and transported to New South Wales three years later. He was recorded to have died at the age of 51 at the Sydney Infirmary 10 years after being jailed.

Stuurman was reportedly buried at a nearby cemetery which later became Sydney’s Central Railway station. His remains were exhumed and reburied in a mass grave in another cemetery that forms part of the Sydney Memorial Park.

The repatriation of Stuurman’s spirit is another attempt to promote reconciliation, unity, justice, nation building and social cohesion.

The Dispatch was unable to reach Martin as he was on a flight to Australia yesterday.

Martin however released a statement before embarking on the journey:

“The plan and campaign to repatriate the human remains of Dawid Stuurman from Sydney in Australia has finally borne fruit and it is going to happen.

“This is an emotional matter. Speaking about an icon like Dawid Stuurman, someone who led a rebellion but who also could be a symbol of unification within the country, in particular to the so-called coloured community.

“The process has taken a long time in planning and consultation with various stakeholders, including families, Khoisan representatives, government and researchers,” it read.


The delegation is scheduled to return on Thursday and will travel to Sarah Baartman’s Heritage Centre in Hankey where Stuurman’s spirit will be laid to rest.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here