SAHRC passes buck on hate speech against minority

In February 2010 the South African Pagan Rights Alliance lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against repeated libelous statements made by Traditional Healers Organization national co-ordinator, Phephisile Maseko, against South African Witches.

[1] “I can’t speak for others, but our members are well-informed. They would never participate in muti killings and don’t believe in it. We heal, we don’t kill,” she said. “I have heard reports of muti killings but I have never personally seen it. Those who do that are witches who don’t belong to any organisation. They haven’t been trained so they do as they please,” she said. Muti killings up ahead of 2010? published 06 March 2009.

[2] She (Phephisile Maseko) said traditional healers who used body parts to make muti were not true healers, but “heartless witches”. “How could a healer use body parts or remove somebody’s body parts while the person is still alive? That means you are a witch, not a healer,” she said. Money muti harvesting increases published 08 February 2010.

[3] “Witchcraft is all about greed and jealousy… unless there are leaders in government, who are willing to lead the fight against witchcraft, legitimate traditional healers are not going to get over this hurdle.” Dept, healers declare war on muthi killings published 18 February 2010.

Maseko’s repeated allegation that muthi murderers are “witches” practicing “witchcraft” remains untrue and defamatory.

This Alliance demanded that the South African Human Rights Commission (1.) properly investigate repeated libelous allegations made by Phephisile Maseko against South African Witches, (2.) makes a ruling regarding the innocence of self-identified Witches with regard to allegations made by Maseko that we are responsible for the commission of muthi murders, and (3.) instructs the Traditional Healers Organization national coordinator to cease making libelous statements against South African Witches.

In February 2013 the SAHRC informed this Alliance that the complaint would not be pursued by the SAHRC on the grounds that complaints of a religious nature do not fall within the SAHRC’s jurisdiction, and the matter has been refered to the CRL Rights Commission and the Law Reform Commission.

SAPRA has submitted the following appeal against the decision by the SAHRC…


The South African Human Rights Commission

Chantal Kisoon, Nthabiseng Kwaza and Lauren O’Reilly

Dear Sir / Madam

This Alliance acknowledges receipt of your response dated 27 February 2013.

SAPRA would like to appeal against the decision by the SAHRC to refer this complaint to the CRL Rights Commission and the Law Reform Commission.

This Alliance is currently working closely with the CRL Rights Commission to bring an end to witchcraft accusations and witch-hunts in this country, and initiated the appeal for review against the 1957 Witchcraft Suppression Act in 2007.

It is the opinion of this Alliance that the decision of the SAHRC not pursue this complaint on the grounds that complaints of a religious nature do not fall within the SAHRC’s jurisdiction, contradicts a recent decision by the SAHRC to declare the contents of a book called “Die Raadsplan” published by Living Hope Ministries as hate speech. According to news reports “the commission’s view was that the right to freedom of expression did not extend to advocacy of hatred based on race, and that constituted incitement to cause harm”.

We wish to remind the SAHRC that the right to freedom of expression also does not extend to prejudice based on belief, especially where accusations of witchcraft, still illegal under existing legislation, have been proven to constitute incitement to violent witch-hunts.

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance herewith requests a copy of the SAHRC Appeal Form as directed in your correspondence.

Please note that failure by the SAHRC to submit said appeal form to this Alliance timeously in order to allow SAPRA to lodge an appeal,  within 45 days of receipt of your letter (received by this Alliance on 28 February 2013), will constitute a grievous administrative injustice and this Alliance will have no choice but to approach the courts for administrative justice.



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