Call to disband the ORCU- your questions answered
A popular tool of Christianity has been the threat of ‘Satanism’; a threat so intense that it prompted the SAPS to found an ‘Occult-related Crime Unit’ in 1992. It’s now 21 years later and despite what the media may have told you, the ORCU is still operating regardless of it being in contravention of SAPS ethical codes and the Bill of Rights. There have been many calls to disband the unit, once and for all, but those calls have been met with questions- here are the answers to those questions and motivation for why the ORCU should be no more.
1. The case of Kirsty Theologo and other cases confirm that Satanism is a problem. We need the Occult Related Crimes Unit to protect us against these harmful faiths.
Wrong. Cases like Kirsty Theologo’s murder, the Keamogetswe Sefularo murder and the Michael Van Eck case were simply constructed in the media as Satanism. The Michael Van Eck case was clearly constructed as Satanism and later confirmed to have no connection to Satanism. Additionally, the “Satanic” angle in the Keamogetswe Sefularo case was based on rumours and speculations.
The Theologo case is an exception as the accused apparently did believe they were doing some sort of ritual. However, they admitted in court they had no actual knowledge on Satanism and that they constructed their ritual around a Biblical reference from Revelation and what they perceived to be ‘Satanism’ from magazines and rap music. It is also clear that they tried to lay the blame of their actions on numerous things such as music, drugs, possession etc.
The accused in the Theologo case can be considered “legend trippers” who acted out the Christian myth of Satanism. Their actions also do not match the legitimate beliefs of either LaVeyan Satanists or Theistic Satanists. Unfortunately, the media loves sensational headlines and even if they sometimes add the word “alleged” to the headline, the public tends to remember only the “Satanic” part as the term triggers fear and emotion.
If Christians or Muslims have the right to distance themselves from criminal fringes within their faiths, so should Satanists and other religious minorities. The religion of the perpetrator or criminal is usually not mentioned, we don’t hear about “Hindu crimes” or “Christian crimes”. Applying a “Satanic” or “Occult” label to crimes, implies that all Satanists and all Occultists are prone to such crimes, or are required to commit such crimes or else it implies that Satanism or Occultism must be inherently bad – this is completely false and downright discriminatory.
“Satanic Crimes” are largely a media creation and we can see that they make big headlines due to their rarity. It is clear that this is hardly a problem for a specialized unit of born-again Christians who believe they are engaging the forces of darkness – Kenneth Lanning clearly warns against such behaviour among police officers in his 1992 report for the FBI.
2. What about Muthi killings? Don’t we need the Occult Related Crimes Unit?
While Muthi killings are a problem, we could ask the question of why a specialized group of born-again Christians is needed to deal with these issues.
Confounding Muthi killings with Satanism or Witchcraft, or implying that African Traditional Practices are also “evil”, have been errors of the past that have come from both police officers and the media. A Christian faction of the SAPS has an agenda after all – they must fight the devil and promote that the only salvation can come through Jesus Christ. Why would they care to carefully distinguish between various belief systems and practices?
Muthi killings are the actions of criminals, which are condemned by Traditional Healers and Witchcraft adherents alike. Muthi murders already fall under laws governing murder and the trafficking in human body parts- why do we need a squad of evangelical detectives to try attribute elements of Satanism to such cases?
3. What about witch-hunts? Don’t we need the Occult Related Crimes Unit?
Witch Hunts are a real problem, but is an Occult Related Crimes Unit the solution- do they promote or fight the superstitions that lead to witch-hunts?
According to the 2012 leaked SAPS memo, the ORCU will investigate “astral coercion, spiritual intimidation, curses intended to cause harm, allegations of rape by tokoloshe spirits, and poltergeist and paranormal activity”. So rather than fight superstitious beliefs, they are actually promoting it and validating elements associated with witchcraft accusations.
4. This Unit cannot infringe upon the constitution of South Africa. They will pursue crimes and not beliefs.
The Bill of Rights assures freedom of religion for all South Africans, but those involved with the Occult Related Crime Unit blatantly disregard this right and knowingly discriminate against minority religions.
The term occult means “hidden”; not in terms of clandestine, but as referring to an esoteric or inner tradition where knowledge is usually gained through initiation and trial. The Occult includes divination (tarot, astrology, scrying, palmistry etc.), the practice of magic and Alchemy. The Occult can also include belief systems which engage in Occult practices such as Wicca, Witchcraft, Hermeticism, Kabbalah, Neoplatonism (mysteries once considered sacred), certain Pagan groups and also Satanism. None of these practices or beliefs are inherently harmful in themselves. The Occult-related Crime Unit is clearly discriminatory by misusing the term “occult” and, from a Christian interpretation, equates an inherent badness to the term and the beliefs and practices it covers.
While SAPS spokeswomen Tummi Shai and ex-ORCU Head, Kobus Jonker, say “they [ORCU detectives] persecute crimes and not beliefs” and “respect all beliefs”, they actually brush aside legitimate concerns raised by the South African Pagan Rights Alliance. Their words are clearly in contradiction to statements made by Attie Lamprecht, the current head of the Occult Related Crimes Unit.
In a 2008 article Lamprecht clearly states that “Satanism is not a crime,” but then goes on to say “it is a belief system that leads to crime”. He even claims that following LaVeyan Satanism’s “Satanic Rules” will eventually cause a person to “snap”. On what does he base this opinion- does he have any legitimate studies he can refer to? The answer is no, he doesn’t because his claims are based on his personal prejudice.
There is absolutely no evidence that Occultism or Satanism are belief systems that produce more criminals than any other belief systems. In the Christian fantasies the ORCU detectives adhere to, Occultists and Satanists are evil; not even Pagans are safe as Lamprecht calls “white magic” a “gateway faith or practice”, that eventually leads a person into the horrors of full Satanism.
While Jonker- who provides training for ORCU detectives- may be more reserved when offering comment to major publications, it seems that in Christian publications he feels free to speak his mind on his opinions of Pagans and Occultists. In a 2012 Radio Pulpit interview entitled, Satanisme en die bestaan van die duiwel, Jonker clearly states that “losing even one soul for Christ is a problem”. Clearly there is a religious agenda here.
In another Radio Pulpit interview entitled, Okkulte in Skole, the use of “Angel Oracle Cards” and meditation are presented as possible problem behaviours schools should deal with in children. Additionally, he equates meditation with “summoning spirits”, a “spiritual problem” he also attributes to Paganism. Apparently all Occultists, Pagans and Satanists have “absent father figures or fathers not assuming authoritative roles in the house” or they “could be rebellious or bored”.
In an article from the Christian magazine Lig from August 2001, we see that Jonker draws a distinction between Satanists and Wiccans. He is however sure to remind the readers that the sources behind Wicca is demonic and that deliverance of Neopagans are accompanied by “manifestations”. It is clear that Jonker is incapable of providing unbiased, factual training to ORCU detectives.
5. I am a moderate Christian or Muslim; or I am an Atheist or Agnostic. Why does this concern me?
This issue does indeed concern all religious minorities and also atheists along with more liberal or moderate members of major faiths. The fundamentalist/evangelical/warfare ministry faction of Christianity should not have free reign to use state resources to pursue their own religious campaigns, in this case a fight against the devil.
This issue is blurring the separation between Church and State. If Christians can freely discriminate against groups they don’t like or approve of (in this instance, anything they deem ‘occult’), what is preventing them from discriminating against other groups or beliefs they don’t approve of? If they manage to outlaw Satanism, what is preventing them from eventually outlawing Atheism?
These same Christians are usually also strongly opposed to homosexuality and same-sex marriage. They have their own views on abortion, which they want to enforce on everyone, and they are usually the ones who believe South Africa should “turn to God” and is “a Christian nation”.
In their very warped view of the guarantee of religious freedom, majority does indeed rule. They do not realize the protections offered by religious equality and non-partisan views with regards to religion. All South Africans should have the right to believe as they choose and likewise they should have the right to choose not to believe or have religion forced upon them. The Occult Related Crime Unit is in violation of these principles.
Sign this petition against such a religious faction within the SAPS, let these officers be assigned elsewhere, where they can do real work. Let us disband what is essentially government endorsed Christian evangelism/warfare ministry, paid for by our tax money.