TALIANAH BREET. The complacency of the average human being when it comes to human suffering baffles me completely. Clearly it’s okay that babies are being burned to death over accusations of witchcraft. Well it must be, because so far very few people have communicated horror over what has been happening. It is getting to the point where my neighbour can accuse me of being a witch and the entire community can burn me to death AND IT’S OKAY, because hey, witches are evil, right? No evidence, no reasoning, but an accusation is all that is needed to pass and execute a death sentence on me.
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OUTIE. I find it very interesting how people can subscribe and unsubscribe to values these days, as if they signed up for a Care2.com newsletter and then changed their minds a day later. For example – and I apologise in advance for using sweeping generalisations, but you will see that they are necessary in order to make the point, and I do acknowledge that there are individuals out there who are not like this – it occurred to me that most of the black people who voice their opinion either directly to me or via the media have this collective empathy with those who were oppressed and discriminated against during the Apartheid era. I can understand this, since, as a self-identified South African Witch, I feel an empathy with all of those people through the ages who were accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake or drowned as heretics, under an unjust and very predominantly Christian system.
DAMON LEFF. Don’t be fooled by the S.A. Prayer Movement for Change. They’re not praying for peaceful elections; they’re praying for the violent destruction and suppression of identified religious and gender minorities. Is inciting the general public to psychically and spiritually attack Witches, Freemasons, Muslims, Pagans, Esoterics and Satanists through prayer protected under the constitutional guarantee to religious belief? Are curses by Christians not equally actionable? If not, is it because they are ineffective, or because they are sanctioned by the state?
DAMON LEFF. 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.
FRANCISCO FUMAROLA. The SAPS are actively promoting Satanic Panic and discrimination in South Africa. This is due to the biased sources they draw upon, poorly defined and outright wrong definitions of “Satanism” and the “Occult” and the fact that they reflect solely the opinions of Christian sources. Mainstream Christianity is opposed to the “Occult” as certain occult practices are forbidden in the Bible (with passages open to interpretation and consideration of context). The term “Occult”, while meaning “hidden”, does not refer to clandestine, “evil” or illegal practices. It refers to the esoteric and inner traditions that lie behind all religions, including Christianity.
FRANCISCO FUMAROLA. A supposed member of the South African Police Service (SAPS) involved with Occult Related Crimes and their investigation came amidst the Pagan community in 2013 like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. SAPRA had already sent objections to the SAPS about the apparent revival of an Occult Related Crimes unit as revealed in a leaked memo from 2012. These objections by SAPRA have never received any kind of response from the SAPS. The only response made by the SAPS came through media statements where they kept repeating the same PR spin about “not discriminating against religious beliefs but investigating crimes”. Apparently “occult” and “satanic” crimes were suddenly a big issue –mainly actually due to false labeling of crimes as a result of shoddy education and the shoddy nature of sources used by the SAPS when it comes to the occult. To date, SAPRA’s valid objections still have not been addressed.
DAMON LEFF. Accusations of Witchcraft continue to discriminate against those accused, but they also serve to further marginalize an already existing religious minority that identifies Witchcraft as its religion. South African media, with very few exceptions, has paid scant attention to ongoing witch-hunts and even less to advocacy against witchcraft accusations in this country. In the name of the victims of witchcraft accusation past and present, I appeal to South African and international journalists and editors to demonstrate bold courage in supporting this ongoing struggle for human rights, justice and dignity in South Africa.
LESLEY MADYTINOS. The heroes of myths and legends hold a most important place within the allegories of the ancients and within human society, past and present. Regardless of whether these heroes arise from the mire of historical battle or focus upon an ordinary person faced with an extraordinary challenge, the motif of the path of the hero is identified by a personal choice made by the hero from which unfolds a particular course of action that embodies specific qualities. These heroic actions and the qualities they suggest become the values of any community of humans.