Animal slaughtering thwarted on popular Cape Town beach

Cape Town – Strand Beach in Cape Town is a popular stretch for swimmers and holiday goers but recently became a spot for attempted animal slaughtering.

The incident was unusual for the public space and sparked questions about the significance of traditional rituals and where they could be held.

A small group, apparently led by a Sangoma (traditional healer), asked a beach amenities staff member earlier this month if they could have a prayer session on the beach, ward councillor Dave Venter said on Monday.

“They didn’t mention anything about any ritual. They said they just wanted to meditate. This individual said it is fine because it is an open public space, as long as it is not immoral or people can object to your actions.”

A patroller from the Strand Neighbourhood Watch later found out they wanted to make fires and offer a goat, said Venter.

“The lady sangoma was very upset because she said it was an open beach and we can do what we want.”

The Watch’s vice chair Manfred Thieroff said their patroller established they had not obtained permission to slaughter.

Chickens incident

About a week later, a group apparently tried to slaughter chickens in another spot on the beach. Venter said he believed a chicken’s head was cut off before police intervened. Thieroff said no animals were killed. 

It was not clear whether the same group was involved.

Venter said bylaws prevented such rituals involving slaughter in public spaces.

“It is nothing against any religion or group but we cannot allow it. It offends people.”

Chair of Subcouncil 8 Stuart Pringle said other disturbances, like fires and excessive noise, were also prohibited on the beach.

He said the city’s law enforcement would monitor the situation but that local residents were also advised to phone the SPCA.

Traditional ceremonies were most commonly conducted out of the public eye and in homesteads, said Xolile Ndevu, general secretary of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa.

While he could not speak for sangomas, he said traditional leaders respected public spaces.

“We respect other people’s beliefs. If something has to be done in a place that is more public, then a process must be followed to ensure everyone has been notified and there is agreement.”

‘Nothing to do with animal cruelty’

The slaughtering of goats and cows was linked to ancestral beliefs and commonly used for thanks, honour or cleansing, said Ndevu.

The animal was speared in the stomach so that it bellowed.

“Everyone claps hands and ululates when it bellows because then it means the ritual is in accordance with our custom.”

They killed the animal soon after and did not cause it much pain, said Ndevu.

“We do this once in a while so it is nothing to do with animal cruelty.”

He believed chickens were most often used by sangomas for “quick-fix interventions”.

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