SAPS discriminates against religious minorities

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance is lodging a formal charge of hate speech against the SAPS Occult Crime Unit and its members, with the Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, and the South African Human Rights Commission.

A South African Police Service media statement published on 26 February 2014 on the SAPS website presents an illogical and highly prejudicial list of warning signs of alleged dabbling in ‘The Occult’.

The statement was presented at the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRLRC) in Johannesburg where stakeholders were invited to “take part in the Commission’s integrated approach to stop the harmful practices in schools.”

The “harmful practices” are clearly identified in the SAPS media briefing as activities that occur “in different circles of local satanic groups” in South Africa.

Rampant media speculation on alleged but unproven “Satanic ritual crimes”, primarily promoted by the SAPS Occult Crime Unit and related evangelical Christian anti-Occult spiritual warfare ministeries and individuals acting on behalf of such ministries, constitute a deliberate attempt to propagate hate speech and prejudice against a constitutionally protected religious minority (Satanism) and its adherents.

This propaganda has not been limited to Satanists, but has been and is targeted specifically at South African Occultism, including Wiccans, Witches, Pagans, Occultists and Satanists.

SAPS targets Occultists, Esoterics and Pagans
01 August 2013

Increase in occult crimes in Gauteng, police say
26 February 2014

Increase in occult crimes in Gauteng
26 February 2014

Occult crimes on the rise in Gauteng
26 February 2014

According to the briefing, “The investigators are doing awareness workshops that are being presented at various schools, churches, police stations and the Provincial Commander is also part of the committee of special projects from the office of the MEC of the Department of Education. […]  A network of prayer groups from different church denominations where establish to assist with the problems.”

Alleged warning signs of “dabblers” in the Occult, according the SAPS Occult Crime Unit, include the following symptoms:

Personality changes including rebelliousness, boredom, low self-worthiness, difficulty relating to peers, a change in friends, secretiveness, a drop in academic performance, loss of interest in extra-curricular activities, avoidance of their family, drug and alcohol use, and withdrawal from their family religious heritage and a lack of church attendance. An unusual interest in books, films and videos with an occult theme is also considered to be an indication of “Satanic dabbling”.

“Drug abuse is the common denominator in all levels of Satanism. Drugs have become the primary source of mind-altering experiences for the Satanist, thereby, giving him a false sense of power and spiritual potency. Individuals are recruited into satanic groups by any number or combination of the following:  Free drugs or sex; Companionship; Power; Money; Pornography and Personal choice.”

The SAPS further accuses Satanists (and Occultists in general) of engaging, as a matter of course, in illegal activities such as burglary, drug use, physical and sexual abuse, animal mutilation and murder in the pursuance of their religious beliefs, and blames involvement in Satanism for an increase in suicide rates amongst teenagers.

Notably, the SAPS press release states that body markings, including the Pentagram (and presumably Pentacle – the international religious symbol of modern Witchcraft) constitutes evidence of involvement in criminal activity, as listed above.

Far from representing factual analysis of incidences of violent crimes in public schools, the South African Police Service has chosen instead to deliberately target (scapegoat) and tarnish the reputation and dignity of members of internationally recognized minority faiths in South Africa.

This constitutes a gross infringement of both the SAPS Codes of Conduct and Ethics, and of the South African Bill of Rights and Equality Act with respect to not promoting hate speech and prejudice against any South African on the basis of religion or belief.

This Alliance is therefore lodging a formal charge of hate speech against the SAPS Occult Crime Unit and its members, with the Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, and the South African Human Rights Commission.


The South African Pagan Rights Alliance reiterates its international call to disband the SAPS Occult Crime Unit .

Use your constitutional right to petition against state-aided discrimination against religious minorities and call for the disbanding of the Occult Crime Unit.  SIGN THIS PETITION


Further Reading

SAPS lies to the public about engaging with SAPRA

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