GEORGE NEWS - As Thembalethu residents and police are intensifying their fight against crime and gang violence, another obstacle to finding a peaceful solution is rearing its head.
Locals are worried that the increasingly popular use of muthi among youth gangs may be perpetuating the culture of violence and gangsterism.
Muthi is a traditional medicine prescribed by traditional doctors and herbalists known as sangoma/Igqirha or Ixhwele. Muthi is produced from various products of trees, other plants and animals. Mostly these products are used for luck, body healing and spiritual purposes, but sangomas can also use muthi for evil purposes.
At a peaceful walk against substance abuse and gang violence on Monday 17 June, Siphiwo Mathys of Youth in Action said that youth gangs consult certain sangomas in Thembalethu who hold considerable influence over criminals. These sangomas give the gangsters magic belts that will supposedly help them to be fearless and defeat their enemies. "This affects our campaign against crime very badly, as these boys believe if they go to a sangoma they will be invincible and that nothing can stop them. With these powers they believe they can go around and terrorise our communities and also kill each other in the process," he said.
According to Mathys, these young people are introduced to the dark side of the world which is very dangerous and can escalate out of control. "We have heard reports of sangomas that require human blood or body parts to perform certain evil rituals. This has led to killings in some communities elsewhere in the country," he said. Even worse, he said, parents also assist their children to buy evil muthi and in some instances, when their children are arrested, they consult these sangomas in the hope of freeing them.
"We plead with parents and sangoma societies in Thembalethu to please help us to stop this. If children come to your practice with such intentions, please turn them away. Parents, please stop encouraging your children to do crime."
A sangoma in Thembalthu, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed that "these things do happen". He said he has been approached a number of times by clients who wanted muthi for criminal reasons, but he turned them away. He warned that using so-called evil muthi is dangerous to the user as well, as it "does not always provide the protection the criminals expect". Perpetrators then fall victim of their own criminal acts.
Ethical traditional healers have often slammed the use of body parts and using muthi for anything but healing and doing good.
The use of muthi has been associated with the brazen behaviour displayed by criminals during heists. Research has brought to light that these criminals who use muthi before an attack, wrongly believe that they are invincible and even invisible, while they are merely on a delusional high.
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