Africa, Legal, News, Organizations

A year later, no progress in tracking down Stobbs’ murderers

Photo: Fields of Green for All
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One year after South African cannabis activist Julian Stobbs was murdered in his home, little has been done to catch the perpetrators, Fields of Green for All, the non-profit Stobbs co-founded, said over the weekend.

“The somber South African truth is that our Dagga Farmers are not safe; not from the criminals and not from the police,” Fields of Green for All director Robyn Cameron wrote on the organization’s website over the weekend. “Ordinary hard working, tax paying citizens are not safe.”

Saturday was the one-year anniversary of the murder at Stobbs Lanseria farm near Johannesburg, June 3, 2020.  Police reported at the time that intruders first held up the couple while they robbed the home and then left, returning later to shoot and kill Stobbs in his bedroom.

No justice for Julian

Visiting local police 10 days before the anniversary, Myrtle Clarke, Stobbs wife and partner in the non-profit, despaired in coming away from the meeting: “There will never be any justice for Julian’s murder,” she said in a post-visit video posted on the Fields of Green for All website.

“And the police will continue to arrest people for smoking dagga every day. They will arrest people for trading dagga, for planting dagga; and they’ll continue to act on information from informants and victimize our cannabis community,” Clarke said.

Clarke said she’s received scant information on the status of police work over the past year despite hundreds of attempts to contact authorities by phone. Police told her when she visited the station they are waiting for feedback from their network of informants. “There are no forensics, no ballistics,” she said of the police response so far.

Revolutionaries

Stobbs and Clarke – known in South Africa as “The Dagga Couple” – came to international prominence when they challenged the South African government rather than plead guilty to marijuana possession and dealing charges leveled against them in 2010.

They eventually sued seven governmental agencies responsible for enforcing South Africa’s cannabis laws, leading to the celebrated “Trial of the Plant,” which prompted a 2017 ruling by Western Cape’s High Court that marijuana can be grown and used at home, and an order for the South African parliament to change its Drug Trafficking and Medicines Control Acts.

Their legal challenges led to rulings that stopped police from arresting adults for growing cannabis for personal use, based on their arguments that the country’s laws were “unjust and irrational, not supported by any empirical evidence, and outdated.”

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