Sangomas slam puppy ritual

2010-01-08 00:00

LOCAL sangomas have slammed the ritual conducted in Azalea on Sunday evening where a puppy’s hind legs were stabbed with a spear and it was then buried alive in a shallow grave.

The sangomas, who only agreed to the use of their last names, spoke to The Witness yesterday after the SPCA rescued the puppy on Wednesday, three days after it was buried.

They said although the ritual has traces of a cleansing ceremony, it was extreme and they were shocked by this callous treatment of the animal.

MaNgcobo from Azalea said in 34 years of working as a sangoma she has never seen anything of that nature.

“There is a cleansing ritual … but it is not done in that manner,” she said. “I went through it and for the past 34 years.”

She said the real ritual is called ukulahla isilwane, (to rid oneself of evil spirit). “The person who is to undergo the ritual is taken to a mountain away from other people’s homes and bathed in traditional medicine.

“Incisions are then made on all of the patient’s body joints so they bleed and you remove their blood with a small river rock and rub powdered medication into the incisions.”

She said the blood and the waters mixed with medicine used to bathe the person are then poured into a hole that has been dug on the mountain and the patients walks away without looking back, leaving the bad spirits behind them.

She said the ritual of using animals and in such a cruel manner is a foreign concept to her.

Another sangoma, Sifiso, also labelled the ritual a barbaric act of witchcraft, which served only to demean the practice of traditional healing.

He said traditional medicine is used in the cleansing ceremony, and when stretching things, some people use a chicken, but never a dog.

Meanwhile, the puppy is recuperating well at the SPCA. Tina Clarke, a clinic nurse, said it suffered no other injuries other than the stab wound on the leg, which might have to be amputated.

Jeanette Salzwedel, a senior inspector at the SPCA, said they believe the incident was related to previous rituals involving dogs, as the scenes are exactly the same.

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