South Africa’s King Khoisan released on warning

The leader of a local activist group has been released on bail after his dramatic arrest for growing marijuana outside the president's office in a years-long protest.

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PRETORIA - The leader of a local activist group was released on bail on Thursday, one day after his dramatic arrest for growing marijuana outside the president's office in a years-long protest.

The activist, who called himself King Khoisan South Africa, walked into court wearing only a traditional loincloth and a pelt headdress.

He was granted no-cost bail and the case was adjourned until March. As he left the court, he promptly lit a pipe containing marijuana.

Some 20 police officers, including some on horseback and in riot gear, arrested King Khoisan on Wednesday on the lawn of President Cyril Ramaphosa's offices.

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

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 away from a giant bronze statue of Nelson Mandela, the country's first black president.

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.