Programme Director; Director-General of the Department of Science and Innovation, Dr Phil Mjwara;

DSI Acting Deputy Director General, Dr Yonah Seleti;

The current Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional and Khoi San Leadership; Inkosi Shinga;

The former Chairperson, Inkosi Chiliza;

Amakhosi onke

Department of Health Deputy Director General, Dr Teboho Moji

Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Prof. Nhlanhla Mkhize

Director at the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge System of the University of KwaZulu Natal, Dr Mayashree Chinsamy

Representatives of the Traditional Health Practitioners Organisations;

Distinguished guests;

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen


It is an honour and privilege for me to address you on this important occasion that seeks emphasise the importance of protecting and promoting the knowledge and creative work of indigenous people and communities.

This year, our country celebrates Heritage month under theme ‘Celebrating the Legacy of Solomon Linda and the South Africa’s Indigenous Music’.


In choosing to celebrate the work and legacy of Solomon Linda, we are paying tribute to one of country greatest cultural figures.


Solomon Linda has made in an immeasurable contribution to the advancement of indigenous music, in South Africa.


As we know, Solomon Linda is the composer of the South Africa musical classic ‘Mbube’, Mbube propelled Linda to global stardom and by 1949, it had sold over 100,000 copies.


Even though Linda’s best known for the song ‘Mbube, he also recorded other seminal musical pieces such as ‘Yethul' isgqoko’ and ‘Sikhalela izwe lakithi’.


Not only were Linda’s songs rich with culturally rich, but they also had a universal humanism and carried with them the undertones of political protest.


Even though Linda’s propelled him to national and global stardom, this didn’t insulate him from the predatory behaviuor people in the entertainment industry.


One of his celebrated songs is the ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’. Linda wrote this song in 1939 and it was covered by many artists including the Disney film “The Lion King”. Unfortunately, this song was misappropriated by Broadway and Linda was not credited for his work.


The ‘Lion Sleeps Tonight’ transcends racial, cultural, and timelines and eventually earned millions of dollars, but he did not benefit financially from his creative work. 


Even more tragic, is the fact that Solomon Linda died in such poverty that it took his family eighteen (18) years to buy a tombstone for his grave. This kind of predatory and unethical behavior on the part of companies in the creative arts is something that continues to happen today.


As part of paying tribute to Solomon Linda, it also important to use this occasion to demonstrate what we as a Department are doing to avoid the tragedy that befell Linda from happening again.




Indigenous knowledge is a national asset and that it is therefore in the national interest to protect and promote indigenous knowledge through law, policy and both public and private sector programmes.


In 2004, government passed an Indigenous Knowledge Policy to essentially deal with the continued marginalisation and misappropriation of indigenous knowledge and in 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the Indigenous Knowledge Act No. 6 of 2019.






In ensuring the legal protection of indigenous knowledge within my Department of Science and Innovation, we deliberately took steps to mainstream IKS work as an integral part of our work as a Department.


We specifically prioritised the work on Indigenous Knowledge in our Decadal Plan as one of our Mission and included it as part of our key performance indicator. The Decadal Plan is an implementation plan for our White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (2019).


This should bring relief to all practitioners that as a Department, we value the contribution that IKS and practitioners can bring in the entire science and innovation value chain, particularly as an instrument to benefit practitioners and communities directly.


During this Heritage Month, as a Department, we are focusing our attention on Indigenous Knowledge-Based Bio-Innovation.


Our Indigenous Knowledge (IK)-Based Bio-Innovation Programme has six platforms on African natural medicines, nutraceuticals (food and nutrition), cosmeceuticals (health and beauty), health infusions (beverages), technology transfer (incubation) and commercialisations (enterprise development).


Our IK-based bio-innovation programme established at the Technology Innovation Agency  (TIA) and Industrial Development Corporation  (IDC) had been created as a commercialisation platform to ensure that the users of indigenous knowledge follow the regulations.


This allow individuals who intend to use IK for commercialisation purposes to apply in the manner prescribed in the regulations for a licence authorising the use of indigenous knowledge.


As a Department, we have ensured that we not only develop regulation and set-up formal coordinating structures, but that we provided the necessary financial and skill resources through our National System of Innovation (NSI) and our Post School Education and Training (PSET) institutions to help implement the work of our communities in the advancement of indigenous knowledge systems and products.


Through the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), we are managing the Setsong Team Crafters Project which is based at Ga-Phaahla, in Limpopo.


The project has two herbal infusions (Diya and Tipane) with various flavours. It is owned by BaPedi wisdom keepers and has so far, several commercial herbal tea range, and newly formulated ice-teas. I must indicate that the medicinal and nutritional benefits of the two herbs have been completed.


The ARC has completed agricultural research work and is in the process of implementing plant propagation processes.


Another example of the project that we have recently invested approximately R58 million for its construction, is the current Good Manufacturing Practices-based laboratory and medicines production facility. The laboratory is also linked to Farmovs, an FDA-accredited clinic trials management research facility.


Linked to the manufacturing will be an Integrative Medicines Facility and a Dispensary to pilot the clinical utilisation of African natural medicines.


Construction of both facilities are at an advanced stage, and are estimated to be completed by November 2022.


Another project that we are funding is the I-Brand Health Infusions projects that is managed by the University of Free State (UFS) and working with four (4) communities, two in the Eastern Cape, and two in the North West provinces.


As the DSI we have supported the construction of the pre-processing facility and plant propagation.


The initiative has a total eight herbal infusions. The Krwakrwa community in the Easter Cape have two main herbal infusions, Haw-Haw and Gaincar.


The UFS has completed both nutritional and medicinal benefits studies of the infusions, including using fermentation technologies. Several members of the projects have been training in bio-entrepreneurship, and part of the Indigenous-Brand Consortium are doing business in these herbal infusions.


Commercial agreements have been signed with Tiger Brands and several other retail outlets. A total of ten members are part of the project.


Furthermore, our Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) instruction will be providing appropriate platform for students and learners to receive IK-based instructional learning in domains based on their real-life experiences.




Ladies and gentlemen


As government we have built into the IKS Act the recognition of prior learning.


My Department of Science and Innovation has prioritised the Recognition of Prior Learning by developing mechanisms to ensure the recognition of indigenous knowledge practitioners as a professional discipline. This includes ensuring that practitioners have their own institutions, governance structures and well-established mechanisms to ensure quality assurance.


In our view, this is an important step towards affirming IK's status as a knowledge domain in its own right and helping to restore the dignity of indigenous knowledge holders and knowledge community, whose forms of knowing have often been dismissed by more western ways of knowing.


We have identified sixteen (16) disciplines that fall within the scope of the recognition of prior learning, including traditional healing, indigenous mining, indigenous architecture and technologies, and indigenous astronomy.




As you may know, one of the critical provisions of the IK Act is the establishment of the National Indigenous Knowledge Systems Office (NIKSO), which functions to implement the IK Act.


The registration of indigenous knowledge in the context of the IK Act serves the purpose of recording, preserving and protecting the knowledge of indigenous communities from biopiracy and exploitation.


It aims to ensure that the socio-economic benefits arising from the use of communal IK resources would flow back into the local communities who were the generators and custodians of this knowledge.


As a Department, we therefore established a Task Team, comprising leaders from traditional health organisations, representation of traditional leaderships, academics, officials from SAQA and officials from the Department of Science Innovation (DSI) and the National Department of Health to develop norms and standards for traditional healing system and oversight of the piloting of the assessment process.


The norms and standard cover the work of ubuNgoma (Diviners), ubuNyanga (Herbalists) and ubuBeletisi (Birth Attendants) and the work has been done in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and North West Provinces. 


Out of the Norms and Standards, we have developed two sets of assessment criteria: (i) for the assessors and (ii) for assessment of the traditional health practitioners for each category. 


Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the piloting of the assessment of the traditional health practitioners was delayed, however I am glad that the Pilot Assessment commenced in earnest here in KwaZulu this year in three districts of uMkhanyakude, Zululand and Harry Gwala.


I am informed that we sadly lost three (3) members of the Pilot Steering Committee and one member of the Pilot Task team to Covid-19.


I would like to take this opportunity to send my condolences to the team and all practitioners and the families of all the deceased members.




Ladies and gentlemen,


I would like to report that the process of setting up of the Special Services Delivery Unit (SSDU) is underway and it is our intention to complete the process of launching the SSDU by the 1st April 2023.


Through the Department of Higher Education and Training, we are working to ensure that we designate the Special Services Delivery Unit (SSDU) as designated Authority for the certification of Disciplines in the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).


In conclusion, I want to assure you that as government and both my Department of Science and Innovation and Higher Education and Training we will stop at nothing to ensure that we protect, promote and advance indigenous knowledge and the knowledge holders.


We recognise that there is still a lot of work to be done by all stakeholders, in order for us to be able to confidently declare that we have achieved at least 50% of what the IKS Act requires of us to do.


With these words, I wish you the best in the proceedings for this week and next week in the completion of the Pilot in KwaZulu-Natal.


Thank you


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