Healers warn leaders

2019-03-20 06:00
PHOTO: Nokuthula NtuliTraditional healers from across KwaZulu-Natal marched to the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday. They burned incense to connect with the ancestors before handing over their memorandum.

PHOTO: Nokuthula NtuliTraditional healers from across KwaZulu-Natal marched to the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday. They burned incense to connect with the ancestors before handing over their memorandum.

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HUNDREDS of traditional healers painted Pietermaritzburg red on Tuesday when they marched against what they described as government’s attempt to interfere with their work.

Theirs was one of several simultaneous marches yesterday to provincial legislatures around the country.

The healers — including sangomas — said they were not against being regulated, but the Traditional Health Practitioners Act was designed to oppress rather than empower them.

“There was no proper consultation when this regulation was drafted, otherwise we would have made sure that we have a policy that supports and protects our cultural and religious rights as promised by the ANC government,” said the Traditional Healers Organisation’s (THO) Siphiwe Manana.

THO has approximately 30 000 members across the country, the majority of whom are in KwaZulu-Natal.

The healers criticised several provisions of the regulation.

These include the requirement to register with a council — which would issue a certificate — before they practise. The registration would only be processed once the healer has met several conditions, including submitting proof of qualifications. “Being a sangoma is calling, it’s not like being a doctor. You don’t wake up one morning and say I want study medicine then get a qualification at the end of the initiation period,” said Derrick Shangase.

They said they also did not understand why the healers were required to get an Adult Basic Education Training certificate.

In terms of the age restriction of at least 18 years for student diviners and herbalists, the calling could come at any stage of an initiate’s life. “We will never stop children from going to school, even if they are initiates. In fact we take from our own money and pay school fees and buy uniforms for initiates,” said Nobongile Kakayo.

Thengindaba Mkhize from Maphumulo said those in power must not forget that they used the healers’ concoctions to get into positions of power.

“We are warning you. Be careful who you are messing with. If you continue treating us like we don’t matter we [will] use our powers to show you what we can really do.”

Sithembiso Nene said they supported the work of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities in protecting people from swindlers. She said they were also against the use of human body parts in indigenous medicine.

“We get what the government is trying to do with its policies, but they are going about it the wrong way, so we are proposing that we sit down and fix this before things get out of control,” she said.

Other demands included the training of healers on environmental management as well as air and water pollution as they worked with indigenous plants.

The memorandum was handed over to Nkululeko Ngcamu, who is the manager in the office of the Speaker in the KZN Legislature, Lydia Johnson. He said the marchers would be contacted by the relevant portfolio committee to discuss their demands.

Tuesday’s march was a build-up to a national one that will be held on May­ 2 in Gauteng.

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