Traditional medicine may have caused death

2017-02-01 06:02
The traditional medication, imbiza (enema), which was found besides Xulu's dead body last Wednesday in Ireland section, in Sundumbili. Photo: supplied

The traditional medication, imbiza (enema), which was found besides Xulu's dead body last Wednesday in Ireland section, in Sundumbili. Photo: supplied

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Durban - Zinhlezenkosi Danois Xulu (61) was found dead at around 11:00 at his place of residence in Ireland section in Sundumbili, Mandeni last Wednesday, 25 January.

Sundumbili SAPS spokesperson, Captain Gideon Mthethwa said Xulu was found lying dead in a toilet beside a five-litre bucket with half a litre of traditional medicine inside it.

It is believed that Xulu used the traditional medicine, commonly known as imbiza (enema), which may have led to his death.

"We urge members of the public to use izimbiza (enemas) accordingly because some may lead to death if the dosage exceeds the amount a person is meant to use," Mthethwa said.

He said it is believed Xulu purchased the traditional medicine from an unknown traditional healer who is reportedly one of several vending their products in the plaza area in Mandeni.

Chairperson of the Traditional Healers Organisation (THO) in the iLembe District, Dr Thengindaba Mkhize said identifying a real traditional healer versus a charlatan is difficult for members of the community.

"What we are currently working on which we wish could be resolved speedily, but the Department of Health is dragging its feet, is that all traditional healers must be regulated in some way. Traditional healers must be issued certificates as proof that they are traditional healers and those certificates must clearly state which conditions that the traditional healer deals with. This will help potential patients separate the real from the fake and also help them know which traditional healer they should go to for a specific condition," Mkhize said.

He said his organisation has held an awareness march against traditional healers who operate and sell their medicines on street pavements in some towns.

"We don't need them operating on street pavements or on the side of the road because in the end when someone loses their life after using the medication sold on the street, the image of traditional healers is tarnished. Those selling their medicines on the side of the road are just doing it for monetary gain, that is just criminal, and we are determined to bring an end to this because a traditional healer operates from his place of residence and patients come to the healer for a consultation."

Mkhize said some of these traditional healers operating from the side of the road or the CBD of some towns force people to purchase their medication.

He urged his counterparts to respect the practice of being a traditional healer by following the traditionally accepted channels of initiation and training for becoming a traditional healer.

Mkhize cautioned the public and advises them to avoid consulting or purchasing traditional medicines from individuals operating on street pavements.

He added that potential patients should ask peers and locals about a traditional healer they might be considering and use those responses to determine whether the traditional healer is experienced, trusted and respected.

"Do not judge whether a person is a real traditional healer simply by looking at their outward appearance, the clothing and the beads on them, because all these items are easily available for anyone to purchase in most towns," he said.

Furthermore, he said members of the public should consult the local health department to assist them with locating a traditional healer because real traditional healers work closely with the department.

KZN SAPS spokesperson, Captain Nqobile Gwala said an inquest docket was opened at the Sundumbili police station for investigation and that a post-mortem will determine Xulu's cause of death.

The Weekly was unable to reach Xulu's family for comment at the time of going to press.

On the Department of Health’s website, KZN MEC for Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo issued a stern warning about the dangers of using herbal enemas for the treatment of ailments in children.

“In certain households, enemas are used to treat, among others, constipation, diarrhoea and vomiting, abdominal pain, “isolo”, abnormal stool colour or for bowel cleansing.”

However, Dhlomo says some enemas produce strong herbal toxins that are dangerous to the rectum and internal organs, as they are not examined for safety and regulated by the Medical Control Council under the Medical Control Act.

This is in terms of the strength, ingredients, expiry date, as well as the mode of delivery.

“We are extremely concerned by what has been happening, and encourage parents and guardians of all sick children to rather come to health facilities if the children are sick, so that they can be treated. This includes adults themselves,” reads the statement. In a separate statement, Dhlomo warns: “[D]rinking traditional concoctions such as isihlambezo to induce the delivery of a baby – including by pregnant children in their teens - is a deadly practice that should have long been abolished.”

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