SA declares war on muthi killings

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pretoria - Government and traditional healers have formed an alliance declaring war on muthi killings, following the death of 10-year-old Kgomo Masego early this year.

Together, they hope to not only reduce, but also prevent incidences.

Traditional healers and the Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya met at the Union Buildings on Tuesday to discuss the challenge of muthi killings and find measures to address the problem.

During the meeting, the traditional healers, represented by National Traditional Healers Organisation, and the ministry agreed to work together to expose the perpetrators of crime and those using such medicines.

Mayende-Sibiya said that while African medicine was part of South Africa's culture she warned that that this could not be used as an excuse to justify the killing of a human being to heal a person.

"We can't be a country to live in fear that a child, woman or man has been killed for such purpose, we have to root out this evil practice," Mayende-Sibiya said.

She said an indaba to address muthi killings would be held next month and in preparation, government would gather all available data to better understand the prevalence, patterns and trends of the cases.

She said her department would interact with the Department of Health, which is responsible for medicine and health professional regulation, and the criminal justice cluster to ensure more focused law enforcement measures are put in place.

"We have to ensure that these cases are recorded correctly and ensure that our people are aware of this problem and they assist us and the law enforcement agencies to address this problem."

Traditional Healers Organisation National co-ordinator, Phephisile Maseko said the main challenge was who the customers for the body parts are and how to bring them to book.

"About 901 body parts, especially breasts and genitals, have been removed from the healers, but the biggest question is, who are these people who purchase the parts and if we expose them, what systems are there to protect us," Maseko questioned.

"Our profession is at stake because every time when such cases happened, people look at us, hence we want to protect it [profession]," Maseko said.