End the persecution

2012-03-09 00:00

YOUR report titled “UK witchcraft murder touches a nerve” dated March 7 refers.

As a witch and activist advocating an end to witch-hunts, I take umbrage at bloggers (and journalists) who have used this case to pontificate on the merits of belief in witchcraft and African morality as if African witches themselves were to blame for this example of child abuse.

“Witchcraft murders”? Hardly! Since both Magalie Bamu and Eric Bikubi were Christians, why did headlines not read “Christians murder child” instead? The crime here is one of accusation. Real witches are not responsible for accusations of witchcraft. Those who perpetuate superstitious libel against witchcraft are the enablers of witch-hunts.

Witch-hunts in Africa are largely motivated through localised forms of religious extremism by practitioners of traditional African religions, who believe that witchcraft is the cause of misfortune; traditional healers who use various forms of divination to point out suspected witches; and charismatic revivalist Christian religious leaders who use their prejudicial notions of witchcraft as a manifest form of satanic evil to encourage their followers to find (accuse) and convert suspected witches.

In March 2011, the South African Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities publicly announced its support for a campaign launched by South African witches represented by the South African Pagan Rights Alliance.

The campaign — 30 days of advocacy against witch-hunts, March 29 to April 27 — was started in 2007 and is an annual advocacy event.

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance again appeals to all commissions for human rights internationally to encourage all governments to halt the persecution of suspected or accused witches

• Damon Leff is the director of the South African Pagan Rights Alliance.

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