Mzansi on a high as court gives blessings to the herb
A haze of smoke filled a Soweto resident's shack as he celebrated the landmark Constitutional Court judgment which decriminalised private use of dagga in SA on Tuesday.
Muzomuhle Godlo, 48, from Orlando West was celebrating with friends where he makes a living as a barber.
The unanimous judgment delivered by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo declared it legal for people to smoke and cultivate dagga in the privacy of their homes without fear of prosecution. The judgment confirmed the 2017 Western Cape High Court ruling.
Yesterday, the sounds of reggae tunes could be heard from a portable speaker in Godlo's shack while he crushed the herb and rolled it into a neat joint before taking a puff.
"I am very happy. Now we can go forward and fight for the right to sell it legally. People call zol a drug but we see it as a natural herb which grows from the soil," Godlo said.
The father of seven, who is also a devout Rastafarian, said he uses the dagga for meditation as well as for medicinal purposes to treat conditions such as flu and nausea.
Godlo, who started smoking dagga 35 years ago, said people were tired of being harassed by authorities for using what they believe to be a harmless herb.
His friend Lwando Mtyobile, 29, said people misunderstood dagga while associating it with violent behaviour. "Ganja smokers are the most peaceful people you can ever come across. It is about time that government legalises it."
Yesterday, people inside the courtroom ululated as Zondo read out parts of the judgment which came after years of lobbying and court battles.
However, the use or possession of cannabis in public spaces remains illegal.
Zondo also did not make provision for the amount of dagga people can keep inside their homes, saying this would be determined by parliament.
Outside court, Rastafarian lawyer Gareth Prince said the ruling was a victory.
"It's a brilliant day. It's about time that South Africans move along with the times and start using what is most valuable. It is valuable because we can make fuel for cars, bricks for houses and paper for books." He said the judgment would also ensure that people were free to practise their culture as Africans.
Empress Moba Ramoba said: "I am free now because I can use it without fear of police coming to arrest me. But I'm still worried because most of us use it for economical reasons, we are selling it."
The mood outside was jubilant with people beating drums, singing and waving flags. A man who identified himself as Jah Crucial from Vosloorus ripped a leaf from the dagga pot plant he was carrying and started chewing on it. "To me this is not a crime."