15/08/2017 16:19 SAST | Updated 15/08/2017 16:24 SAST

The Department Of Social Development Defends Funding Anti-Dagga Protests Outside Court

"Absolutely [they are funding the protest], it is correct."

Mike Hutchings / Reuters
A man smokes marijuana during a march calling for the legalisation of cannabis in Cape Town, South Africa, May 6, 2017.

The Gauteng social development department has confirmed it is funding anti-cannabis protests outside the Pretoria High court where the "dagga trial" is being heard.

Jules Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke have taken seven government departments to court to force the legalisation of cannabis. The pair, known as the "dagga couple", have been in court since last week, fighting for the legalisation of the drug.

The couple launched the case after police raided their home in 2010. Officers found the couple in possession of a large quantity of cannabis. They were arrested, jailed, and charged for drug dealing. They were subsequently granted bail and released.

Department spokesperson Mbangwa Xaba said they are providing t-shirts as well as transportation for demonstrators.

"Absolutely [they are funding the protest],it is correct. In the first instance the campaign goes against substance abuse takes place as part of the court hearing," Xaba explained.

He adds: "We made available the messages as well as the t-shirts so that we can highlight the dangers that substance abuse brings."

When asked by HuffpostSA if it is a correct use of taxpayers' money, Xaba said rehabilitation centers are also run with state money.

He said: "In the first instance, we use tax payers money to build rehabilitation centres. As we stand now rehabilitation centers are full to the brim with children who could have been in school, the majority of these children are introduced to substance abuse through drugs."

Xaba said the department's fight against substance abuse will be intensifying.