Media is complicit in engendering moral panic

Minority Review

South African mainstream media is complicit in engendering moral panic. An unfair criticism of journalists, editors and media publications? No! Resurgent moral panic has taken hold of our nation’s psyche and the evidence suggests the South African media (with minuscule exception) is completely complicit.

In an unmistakably coordinated blitz, an SAPS media conference on family violence, sexual offences, pornography and “Satanic and Ritual cases” was followed by the online publication and republication of a single article 18 times in two days (26 and 27 February). The article appears with one of three recurring headlines, ‘Increase in occult crimes in Gauteng’, ‘Occult crimes on rise in Gauteng’ and ‘Gauteng reports increase in occult crimes’.

None of these publications have bothered to ask actual Occultists to comment on either media conference or published allegations.

Executive members of the South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) spent the better part of three days submitting press releases to all of these publications concerning inaccurate reporting and the incitement of willful and deliberate prejudice against identified religious minorities.

None of these publications thought it prudent or appropriate to acknowledge that someone somewhere had actually lied in an SAPS media conference about SAPRA, or to challenge the near constant promotion of Occult panic by television news agencies, newspapers and online news websites throughout the country.

After all, police men and -women never lie, and the media is always right? Wrong!

To their credit, Power FM did invite SAPRA executive member Francisco Fumarola to a Monday evening chat with Lawrence Tlhabane, host of POWER Perspective, on Satanic Panic and Occultism in S.A. Since the SAPS media briefing on the 26th however, only ENCA and The Citizen have approached SAPRA for comment. Comment provided to the Citizen was never published. ENCA first invited SAPRA to a telephonic interview for Thursday morning, but later rescheduled the interview for Monday 3 March. ENCA will however not offer SAPRA unfettered access to daytime news to discuss their objections on its own merit; instead SAPRA has to share the interview slot with an ex-Occult Crime Unit “expert” who just happens to be one of the founders of South Africa’s Satanic / Occult Panic. Since this interview has not yet been finalized, I will not mention his name.

One would think the content of any one of the three submitted press releases by SAPRA would be newsworthy enough to present to the general public without requiring the ever-present spectre of evangelical Christianity to act as official gate-keeper. Apparently not newsworthy enough for journalists and editors who have by now probably had their glut of panic button pushing and could not care less about religious minorities thoroughly tarred and feathered by their publications in the court of public opinion.

A Friday editorial by The Citizen entitled ‘Beware occult scare-mongering‘ almost appeared as if representing a final word on the subject? Whilst it acknowledged that “there is an element of scare-mongering here…” and “we should guard against knee-jerk responses“, the editorial largely served to reinforce already published details of alleged satanic and ritual crimes. It rubber-stamped, editorial style, the propaganda that has helped to promote this scare-mongering knee-jerk response from the South African media. The editorial ends with “Evil things certainly happen, but we should guard against knee-jerk responses which lump together misguided, ill-informed youthful experimentation with equally ignorant traditional superstitions under the occult label. The mystical can be immensely good. Shakespeare was right: Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

Really? One might as well have paraphrased the last two sentences to read “Shit happens, get over it”. It simply is not that simple. One cannot simply reason or think away the harm already done!

In this country, Occultists, Witches and Satanists are under a non-military siege. The enemy forces include people who genuinely believe that those who involve themselves in the Occult are either criminals or potentially committing hidden crimes against society. An essential advocacy avenue for Occultists, Witches and Satanists through which to hope to defend their dignity as South African citizens against highly suspicious and fearfully negative public perception, the media, has proven itself an unwitting embedded sentinel for the master narrator, the Occult Crime Unit, and its highly prejudicial and discriminatory meta-narrative of Christian moral certainty. [0]

The meta-narrative? Any involvement in or association with “cultic sects” (the term used by the SAPS on the 26th to describe SAPRA’s advocacy mandate and representation) is dangerous and will eventually lead to criminal actions. To quote Senior Superintendent Dr Attie Lamprecht, the operating national head of more than 20 Occult Crime Units across the country, these cultic sects include “white magic” (meaning neo-Pagan Wicca), “gateway religious systems” (meaning Paganism and Occultism) and “destructive religions” (meaning Satanism and Witchcraft). According to Lamprecht, even though being part of a cult is not a crime, and being a Satanist is not a crime, involvement in the Occult will eventually lead the dabbler to black magic, drug addiction and violent crime.

The media has failed to present a rational and unbiased alternative narrative to counter this propaganda, so why should ordinary South Africans believe that what has been published is not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?!

 

[0] A small sample of many South African media statements by current and former members of the SAPS Occult Crime Unit, and others, indicating growing fear, moral panic and the promotion of prejudicial bias against Occultism, Witchcraft and Satanism

“National Commander of the unit, Colonel Attie Lamprecht, advised parents and guardians to be on the look-out for signs that their children are experimenting with satanic groups. These include rebellion, low self-worth, drug abuse, animal mutilation, increased hatred, change in friends, body markings and unusual interest in books or movies with occult themes. Commonly used markings, according to Lamprecht, include the goat head, inverted cross, skull, pentagram, MENA, black rose and swastika. These body markings, he said, can be used for the preparation of sacrifice as well as initiation into a group. “Drug abuse is the common denominator in all levels of satanisim… it is the primary source of mind-altering experiences for the satanists, thereby giving them a false sense of power and spiritual potency,” said Lamprecht. Police have presented workshops in various schools and churches to raise awareness and to stop harmful practices in schools.
Occult related practices on the rise – SAPS
SA News.gov.za | 26 February 2014

“Colonel Attie Lamprecht, commander of the police’s national occult section, said it should be noted that being part of a cult was not a crime, but it was a crime to perform acts that violated the country’s laws.”
Increase in occult crimes in Gauteng, police say
Sapa | 26 February 2014

“Warrant Officer Matsena from the provincial occult department in Durban addressed social workers, nurses, teachers, psychiatrists and welfare representatives to equip them with knowledge on the occult. According to W/O Matsena, KwaZulu-Natal has a major Satanism problem. To his knowledge, there are not many Satanists in Newcastle, but rather more people dabbling in magic and witchcraft. “Estcourt has a Satanism problem, but people are not reporting it,” said W/O Matsena. The occult unit investigates crimes relating to witchcraft, magic, Paganism, Satanism, muti and esoteric societies. W/O Matsena said there was a difference between possession, magic and witchcraft and going to a priest was not always a bad idea.”
Paganists (sic) defend themselves against a new ‘Dark Ages’
Newcastle Sun | Quinton Boucher | 26 July 2013

“Current unit commander, Lamprecht, himself has been quoted as saying that although Satanism is not a crime, it is a belief system that leads to crime.”
SAPS Occult Unit was never disbanded — just went underground
Gateway News | Dianne Steven | 25 April 2013

“Dr Attie Lamprecht, senior superintendent at the SAPS detectives’ head office, who specialises in harmful religious practices, said the access young people have to information in the modern world has increased in the number of people who become involved in Satanism. “There has always been an interest in Satanism among the youth, but due to the massive influx of films, books and music, more and more youngsters find Satanism fascinating. They become so-called free stylists who start practising white magic. This does not let them cause harm to others, but in time, they turn to black magic,” he said. Lamprecht said although Satanism is not a crime, it is a belief system that leads to crime.”
Sin, sedition and Satanism in South Africa
IOL | Jacques Breytenbach | 25 September 2008

“There is probably not a school in South Africa where Satanism does not exist, says Senior Superintendent Dr Attie Lamprecht, national head of the police unit dealing with occult-related crimes. But parents were mostly to blame when children got involved in Satanism and the occult, he said. “If you do not spend time with your children, someone or something else will,” Lamprecht warned during SAfm Radio’s discussion programme, The After Eight Debate. The topic was: “Can fanatical beliefs pose a danger to society?”. “They start to reject everything that is moral, coming from their school and their parents. They think they are on a higher level, in a relationship with some kind of supernatural deity.” Lamprecht said that Satan, for instance, represented vengeance – as opposed to turning the other cheek. “They take this very literally, so the vengeance issue becomes very active,” he said. “Let’s face it, it is a religion of the flesh.” He said he knew he was treading on dangerous ground when he said Satanism was probably in all schools, but this prevalence had resulted from the free access many children have to the internet and other sources of information. “Many parents give carte blanche access to information,” he said. “There is no cyber prohibition. Children are curious and start exploring these things. “It starts with white magic. It goes to gateway religious systems and then to destructive religions. It is pretty prevalent.”
‘Spend time with your kids’
IOL | Keith Ross | 21 August 2008

“In an interview [Kobus] Jonker [founding member of the Occult Crime Unit] dismissed claims by paganists that Satanism does not involve violence. He said crime statistics prove otherwise, and “right now there is a case in court involving a crime and Satanism”. He said that Satanists are mostly adults and school children involved are mostly ‘dabblers’. He said that one of the main reasons behind increased occult and satanic involvement in schools, is that the “hearts of the father’s in society today are far from God”. ”
SAPS Occult Unit was never disbanded — just went underground
Gateway News | Dianne Steven | 25 April 2013

“The Reverend Gift Moerane ventured down the dry, brown pathway. The South African Council of Churches’ Gauteng secretary was going to hold a prayer service at the place where the bodies of schoolgirls Thandeka Moganetsi, 14, and Chwayita Rathazayo, 15, were found in a ditch after an apparent satanic ritual killing. Earlier in the day, the religious leader accompanied Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy to the Moganetsi home. Moerane said families had to be mindful of the activities in which their children were involved. He slammed individuals and groups who killed in the name of Satan.“We don’t have a religion in this country called Satanism. It’s the behaviour of people who support the wrong spirits and think that this country is a banana republic,” he said. ”
Residents terrified after ‘satanic’ murders
IOL | Noni Mokati | 22 February 2014

“Enough is enough regarding Satanism. This was the message preached by pastors and expressed by residents of Dobsonville and the surrounding areas of Soweto at the funeral service for Thandeka Moganetsi and Cwayita Rathazwayo, whose bodies were found in the veld last week. The teenage girls, aged 15 and 16, were murdered in what is suspected to have been a “satanic” ritual.”
Prayers for healing at slain girls’ funeral
The Citizen | Steven Tau | 26 February 2014

“Pupils from George Khosa High School surrounded the coffins at the stadium, holding candles and paying their last respects. More than twenty pastors from churches around Soweto joined hands to pray against Satanism. And even as people ran for shelter from the rain, they did not stop their worship.”
Grief, Fear and Fury!
The Daily Sun | Phindile Sibiya | 26 February 2014

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has expressed concern over the state of the nation while hailing the progress made since democracy at the triennial conference held in Willow Park lodge on Tuesday. The council has also voiced its concern over the recent spate in satanic murders, calling for religious leaders to help government to address the issue. “We are really concerned about the safety of our children as we observe the increasing numbers of rape, sexual abuse and murders of innocent children. We are deeply alarmed by the rising cultic and satanic practices, rituals and killings that seem to attract our youth,” the council said.
Council of Churches concerned over state of nation
The New Age | Lerato Diale | 28 February 2014

“Friends of two murdered Soweto schoolgirls on Wednesday said the teenagers were killed as part of a Satanic ritual.”
Satanic killings: Friends fear they might be next
ENCA | 20 February 2014

 

 

 

 

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