Harmful religious practice and occult on the rise in SA

07 June 2014 - 12:48 By Jerome Cornelius
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Human skull. File photo.
Human skull. File photo.
Image: Gonzo Carles

Vampirism, spiritual intimidation, voodoo and other harmful religious practices are on the rise in South Africa, including in our schools.

To try curb the incidents, which in some cases have resulted in death, government officials have urged parents and teachers to look out for children who wear black clothes or black make-up, who are quiet or secretive and who lose concentration.

Because of the “significant increase” in harmful religious and occult-related practices, the Justice and Correctional Services Department hosted an awareness campaign in Johannesburg on Friday.

The event drew together a number of concerned government officials, including from the South African Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority, the departments of basic education, social development and health, as well as teachers, pupils and faith-based speakers.

It was hosted in Soweto, in the same community where two schoolgirls were found murdered in February in what is believed to be an occult-related crime

The bodies of George Khosa Secondary School pupils Thandeka Moganetsi, 15, and Chwayita Ratazayo, 16, were found in an open field, together with burnt black candles and razor blades. Two 16-year-old boys have been arrested in connection with the murder.

Speaking at the event on Friday, Pastor Faith Stevens, who was called in to assist the school after the girls’ deaths, said some children were at a higher risk of becoming involved in harmful practices. These included children from dysfunctional families, those with absent fathers, orphans and those living in poverty, she said.

Stevens, who calls herself a prophet, described the George Khosa school as a “hub for harmful religious practices”. Stevens said altars where initiation ceremonies were believed to be taking place were found on the school’s premises, with the female cloak rooms being a common spot.

It was here that girls reported performing abortions and drinking blood, as well as making sacrifices “for strengthening”.

Stevens believed said that Moganetsi and Ratazayo were “sacrifices” because they did not want to take part in harmful religious practices like some other children.

Chief director for the promotion of the rights of vulnerable groups at the Justice and Correctional Services Department, Advocate Praise Kambula said the campaign would be rolled out in other provinces.

 “This was a meeting to open their eyes to realities,” Kambula said.

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