Julian Stobbs, one half of the precedent-setting “Dagga Couple” who fought a five-year battle through the courts for the legalisation of cannabis, has been killed in a robbery near Lanseria in Johannesburg.
Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke operated a private members’ club and music venue on the property. The armed robbery occurred in the early hours of Friday morning.
“The attackers entered the couple’s bedroom and shot and fatally wounded Jules Stobbs. Myrtle was physically unharmed and the attackers made off with two cellphones and two laptops,” said the Fields of Green For All non-profit organisation, where they held leading roles.
“The cannabis community is mourning the passing of our hero. The family is requesting that the public respect their privacy and allow Myrtle and the family some space during this difficult time. Thank you for the outpouring of love we have already received,” the statement read.
Head of Community Safety at AfriForum Ian Cameron confirmed that Stobbs had been shot dead during a robbery at their smallholding in Sunrella.
“They stole everything in the house, came back and went into the bedroom and shot and killed the husband.” Cameron said they also stole the couple’s cellphones.
Police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele could not immediately comment on the matter.
Tributes and condolences are being shared on social media by their friends.
Rastafarian Gareth Prince, who led the fight for the legalisation of marijuana in SA for 21 years, told TimesLIVE he found out with great shock about the death of Stobbs.
“He was a fearless warrior, somebody who was not afraid to state his mind and to stand up for what he believed in. He was a great warrior for the freedom of dagga. His memory will live on for as long as we remember cannabis.”
Prince said they were unable to reach his lifelong partner Myrtle Clarke on Friday. “It is a great loss and one can understand that she is very distraught so we will allow her to mourn and wait for her to put out a statement.”
Stobbs and Clarke were arrested in 2010 at their home on charges of possession and dealing in drugs. “We were so indignant at our treatment at the hands of the police that we sued seven government departments on charges of enacting unlawful laws,” she said previously.
From the Pretoria high court in 2013, their legal battle continued until the Constitutional Court ruling in September 2018 that decriminalised the use, growing and possession of dagga in private and for personal consumption. The court, which specified how much was allowable for personal use, gave parliament two years to update legislation to reflect its verdict.
The couple subsequently joined other social activists in the Fields of Green For All movement, to deal with obstacles to the legal regulation of cannabis in SA, including those arrested for its use, cultivation and trade.