A group of traditional healers, who are members of The Sisonke Traditional Healers’ Association of South Africa (STHASA) are working to fix differences between them and their respective communities.
The healers want the community to show respect for their calling.
The group’s Crossroads branch said traditional healers had long been the primary health care providers in the community, but now some people were calling them witches. STHASA co-ordinator Xoliswa Mankonxa appealed to people to allow amagqirha to practise their calling, adding that it was distressing to hear people who grew up using herbs aas medicine, and turning to traditional healers, now calling amagqirha witches.
But she acknowledged the strides which had been made by the government in this field. “We are recognised by the government. (This is) something that needs to be appreciated and applauded. In our (the country’s) constitution, our rights are right there.
“We now have the right to issue sick notes even though it is still a big issue with (some) companies and governmental departments.
“But we are recognised. We now call for recognition from our own people. We are not witches but traditional healers,” she said.
Ms Mankonxa said Sthasa firmly stood for the rights of traditional practitioners.
Facilitator of the meeting, Nandi Phetheni, expressed her disappointment in the way some communities portrayed and treated them.
“We are what we are, and this is our calling. To go as far as labelling us as witches is beyond stupidity. We are practitioners that want to share our methods of healing. We equip each other in the process of healing.
“As Sthasa we want to go as far as having workshops to assist abakhwetha (trainees).
“After August 9, we will be issuing certificates and membership cards to our members. We want our members to be known so that if they do something wrong they can be known and be seen,” she said.
Ms Phetheni said people should know that those who practise witchcraft do not go for initiation as traditional healers. “Our mission is to help our people, that is it. We call on the communities to start educating themselves about what we do,” she said.
Madlamini Skaap, from the Western Cape Inyangi Forum, said amagqirha should start working together and that there were reasons some people did not believe in the practice.
“Many people are raped and killed. And some of those who are arrested would say they were sent by traditional healers. For that you cannot blame some people. Amagqirha need to have workshops too with communities. But as a body that works with the Department of Health in the province, we are making great strides on some issues,” she said.