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Putting Your Faith In The Wrong Healer

Author: Jason Snyman
Date: 2017-10-02
With so many South Africans still turning to traditional medicine, it’s important to be able to tell a posers from a real traditional healer.
Every now and then a new crackpot healer pops up in the headlines. Along with them comes a new and potentially dangerous form of treatment. The healers, as well as their most devout followers, have declared these treatments as 100% effective. They claim the abilities to cure anything from ulcers to cancer to HIV. Now, we know our savvy readership wouldn’t normally fall for these faux promises. But, we decided to take a look at some of the bigger headline-grabbers anyway.

A Real Makhoya Healer vs. A Fong Kong Tsotsi

Many South Africans choose to meet their health needs through traditional medicine. Traditional healers who are considered to be the real deal use different methods. These range from herbs, spiritual therapies, ointments or animal-based potions. However, in a country rich with culture but relatively short on common sense, churchgoers are regularly exposed to unorthodox rituals in order to receive healing. The problem, of course, comes in when these pastors or healers begin to abuse people’s belief systems. Likewise, a large number of foreign nationals have taken advantage of the local population’s respect and trust in traditional medicine men. These charlatans often pose as doctors or professors. They claim to be sangomas, faith healers, traditional healers, holy men or psychics. In reality they’re unemployed and unskilled, and exploit clients for as much money as they can. A number of complaints have surfaced. Of pastors feeding people grass, petrol, snakes, flowers, rattex or spraying insecticide into their faces. The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities has begun to probe into these cases.  

The Doom Prophet

Last year, Prophet Lethebo Rabalago, made headlines by spraying Doom into the faces of his flock. The 24-year from Limpopo, for some nonsensical reason, refers to himself as the Detective. He's claimed that the purpose of this practice is to ‘glorify God.’ Rabalago was photographed spraying the insecticide on worshippers during a prayer meeting for healing, causing an outcry over social media platforms. He claims that the practice isn’t a matter of inspiration, because being inspired means you’re copying. He states that, if you believe in God for anything, you can use anything that you believe in to heal people.
“In the book of Genesis the spirit of God was hovering over the water. [Therefore] everything here on Earth belongs to God. Petrol belongs to God. Doom belongs to God.”
Tiger Brands, the company that makes the product, has said that it finds the practice "alarming." They have issued a press release to condemn the practice. Warnings found on a can of Doom include that it may cause ‘irritation of the skin‚ eyes and mucous membranes.’ It advises users to ‘keep out of reach of uninformed persons’ and to ‘avoid contact with skin‚ eyes and clothing.’ ‘In case of contact‚ wash thoroughly with soap and lukewarm water. If misuse results in accidental illness, consult a doctor immediately.’ South Africa's CRL Rights Commission has also condemned the practice, which it says is ‘detrimental’ to the well-being of people.
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Mkhonyovu and the Estcourt Cannibals

Since August, South Africa has been following the grisly case of the Estcourt cannibals with unease. Recent reports claim that the number of arrests has grown to seven, up from the initial five. It began when Nino Mbatha walked into the local police station in possession of human body parts and declared that he had grown tired of eating human flesh. Mbatha – also known by the nickname ‘Mkhonyovu’, which loosely translates to ‘The Corrupt One’ in Zulu – then led the police back to his home. There, they uncovered body parts now identified to have belonged to the victim, Zanele Hlatswayo. She was reportedly raped, murdered and butchered before parts of her were eaten. The police made five immediate arrests. Traditional healer Mbatha, Sithembiso Sithole, Lindokuhle Masondo, Lungisani Magubane, and Khayelihle Lamula. All of whom, plus the additional two, are facing charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and possession of human body parts. While most residents are shocked, and still trying to come to terms with the situation, others are reportedly unsurprised. A few of Mbatha’s clients, who have consulted with the traditional healer, have knowingly eaten human flesh. Some of them, livestock thieves, were told that by doing so Mbatha could make them invincible, even bulletproof, so that the police could not shoot them. On September 26, traditional healers belonging to the Traditional Healers Organisation (THO), under Alfred Duma Local Municipality, staged a march in Ladysmith to protest against cannibal practices and killings. They have also spoken out against the many illegal practices that are taking place with regards to illegal abortions and healing methods that do not work.  

Chocolate Snakes

An old saying goes, ‘the world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.’ While cases of the aforementioned murder and cannibalism are simply too shocking to poke any fun at – there are, mercifully, still a few clowns out there. One of them includes Penuel Mnguni of the End Times Disciples Ministries, who ‘turns’ rocks into bread and snakes into chocolate. He then feeds them to his congregation. Pictures posted on the Church’s website show Mnguni holding the snakes out for his followers to swallow. According to one happy church member, they taste just like Chomps. In the past, before praying for them, the Prophet has asked the members to strip down. Because, of course he would. He once commanded one of his members to turn into a horse. Indeed, it happened, and the pastor then rode upon his back. Mnguni is reportedly the understudy of Lesego Daniel, who notoriously made his congregation eat grass and drink petrol. If you would like to check whether the traditional healer you intend to go to is authentic or not, visit the African National Healers Association website. Alternatively, go to the traditional healers’ practice and ask to see the practitioner’s card and certificate. Check if the healer’s photograph appears on both. All members of ANHA are required to have their ANHA membership cards and certificates in their practices at all times.

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