Witchcraft had nothing to do with the case of the mutilated rabbit!

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South African Witches are offended by SAPS reservist F. H. Havinga’s public libel of their religion and religious practices.

Annalie Anticevich’s report on a case of animal cruelty entitled ‘Mutilated rabbit found: witchcraft is suspected‘ [0] is a perfect example of how historical fantasies surrounding both traditional African religio-magical practices, and Witchcraft, still serve to reinforce media bias against Witches and Traditional Healers in South Africa.

WITCHCRAFT is expected after the carcass of a mutilated white rabbit was found in Croydon on Monday…[]…Mr F. H. Havinga, a specialist reservist at the SAPS unit for harmful religious practises [1], said it was possible that the mutilation was done as part of African witchcraft and not satanism. He said anyone could have mutilated the rabbit. Witchcraft had its origins in the African black culture, with most of the white population groups not believing African witchcraft practises exist. This is changing, as witchcraft practises are becoming more non-cultural. “The rabbit was most probably mutilated somewhere else and disposed of in Croydon to avoid attracting attention to the mutilators’ practises.  A person practising this kind of witchcraft is most likely not known by the community to be a traditional healer and he is not part of the mainstream traditional healers,” Havinga said. Practitioners of African witchcraft use a rabbit’s ears to forewarn a bearer of oncoming dangers and bad luck. The rabbit’s feet and muti (medicine) made of its other body parts are used to get protection. Rabbits are among the animals believed by African witchcraft practitioners to have magical ingredients. The mutilation and removal of a body part is usually done while the animal is still alive, because this increases the “power” of the muti made. Body parts are not stockpiled and have to be obtained on request. Havinga said witchcraft in itself was not a crime but acting on its beliefs may result in one. A perpetrator could be prosecuted on charges of animal cruelty, murder, theft and charges under the human tissue act. When someone is charged in a South African court, the court does not accept the belief system of African witchcraft as mitigating circumstances, but look at all circumstances in the case. [2]

F.H. Havinga, a Boksburg pastor at Word and Life Church \ Woord en Lewe Gemeente,  (former youth pastor and lay-counsellor at Oasis Christian Church) [3] is the co-author of ‘The Solution, Youth and Satanism Exposed’. His partner, Kobus Jonker, was the founder of the ‘Occult-related Crimes Unit’ (euphemistically referred to as the “harmful religious practises” unit). The only existing special investigative Occult-related Crimes Unit (ORCU), first established in 1992 to investigate “occult-related crimes”, was dissolved and incorporated into existing law enforcement services in 2001.

Pastor F. H. Havinga

The ORCU defined ‘occult-related crime’ as “any human conduct that constitutes any legally recognized crime, the modus operandi of which relates to or emanates primarily from any belief or seeming belief in the occult, witchcraft, satanism, mysticism, magic, esotericism and the like. Included in the scope of occult-related crime are ritual muti/medicine murders, witch purging, witchcraft-related violence and sect-related practices that pose a threat to the safety and security of the Republic of South Africa and/or its inhabitants.”

The ongoing attempt by conservative Christians who served in ORCU, academics and the media generally to continue to define witchcraft within a strictly prejudicial African world-view, based on the assumption that everything already examined by the so-called “experts” on this subject has been correctly understood for what it is, rather than for what it has been presented as being, reflects a one-sided argument in favour of prejudicial stereotypes and scape-goating. The case of the mutilated rabbit is a perfect example of this prejudicial stereotyping.

Havinga would have Anticevich and readers of  looklocal.co.za believe that “African Witches” really are to blame for this as yet un-investigated case of animal cruelty. They are NOT!

The institutionalization of the historical fantasy of ‘African witchcraft’ has been entrenched through the existence of legislation that prohibits knowledge of such “witchcraft” (Witchcraft Suppression Act, No 3 of 1957), and has been reinforced by South Africa’s criminal justice system, thanks to published propaganda against “the Occult” produced by former members of ORCU.

Witchcraft suppression legislation in South Africa was actually drafted against alleged indigenous magical practices and belief systems, wrongly identified as witchcraft. So-called “African witchcraft” is a mythical creature devised largely by Europeans in an attempt to explain African traditional religion and ritual practices associated there-with. Traditional Healers do not call what they do “witchcraft”! On the contrary, traditional healers themselves sometimes become the targets of false accusations of witchcraft.

Contrary to Havinga’s assertion, actual Witchcraft does not find its origins in traditional African cultures or religions! The word itself is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word, and its modern practice is firmly rooted in both ancient and modern European cultures.

South African Witches are offended by Havinga’s public accusation of complicity in criminal activity. Havinga’s fantasies aside, there is absolutely no evidence of Witchcraft in this case. The deliberate characterisation of those who practice Witchcraft as potential criminals prejudices innocent citizens. This stereotypical characterization is offensive and insulting to the dignity of South African citizens who are Witches and who have the legal right to be presumed innocent of false accusations.

The high incidence of often brutal witch-hunts that occur against innocent men, women and children in this country every year [4] should be enough to warrant a strong word of caution to Havinga and the media to in future refrain from any further public slander and libel against a recognized religious minority who identify as Witches and who identify our religion as Witchcraft!

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References & Note:

[0] ‘Mutilated rabbit found: witchcraft is suspected’
The mutilation was done as part of African witchcraft and not satanism
by Annalie Anticevich | 11 July 2012
http://www.looklocal.co.za/

[1] The “SAPS unit for harmful religious practises” used to be called the ‘Occult-crimes Unit’. The only existing special investigative Occult-related Crimes Unit (ORCU), first established in 1992 to investigate “occult-related crimes”, was dissolved and incorporated into existing law enforcement services in 2001. During its 10 year existence during which it investigated in excess of 300 cases of muti-related crimes (murders committed for the express purpose of harvesting human body parts), the ORCU’s mandate included: a) investigating occult-related crime, b) in conjunction with the South African Police Service Crime Intelligence, promoting the prevention of occult-related crime, c) managing the use and dissemination of information on occult-related crime, and d) rendering services to victims of occult-related crime. Between 1992 and 2001 the Occult Related Crime Unit focused its attention primarily on investigating muti-murders; ritualized murders in which human body-parts are harvested for sale for use in alleged magical practices.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Who is F.H. Havinga
http://za.linkedin.com/pub/fh-havinga/7/208/55a

[4] Witchcraft accusations and witch-hunts in South Africa
http://www.paganrightsalliance.org/30_days.html

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