These dangerous beliefs, which often cause unspeakable harm to others or to themselves, must not only be reassessed, but firmly rejected at the individual, societal and legal level.
Muthi is generally known as a term for traditional African medicine prepared from plants or animals.
However, the concept of muthi has now evolved into a number of nefarious beliefs.
One example is that many mistakenly believe that because former President Jacob Zuma has so far escaped prosecution over the myriad allegations, inquiries and inquiries into corruption, mismanagement and favoritism against him, he must have a “strong” muthi.
Over the years, Zuma has used every legal loophole to evade prosecution, “captured” prosecuting authorities, oversight bodies and regulators by appointing loyalists to protect him, and often manipulated the truth to come forward. as the victim rather than the perpetrator.
Yet instead of holding Zuma accountable for his actions, which have often resulted in the loss of countless lives, jobs and opportunities, the gullible, naive and mistaken praise his supposedly strong “muthi”.
This type of false belief means that many cynical African leaders like Zuma can get away with corruption, mismanagement and abuse – which keeps their supporters, voters and countries poor, without them being held back. for responsible.
Likewise, when the former SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, hammered the SABC into the ground, putting many journalists out of work, collapsing suppliers and destroying countless families in the process, many whispered that he got away with it because his mother was said to be a sangoma and gave him “strong” muthi, to “protect” him from being held accountable.
Motsoeneng and the ANC leaders who appointed him to protect their interests gave them uncritical “sunny” media coverage and vilified their critics, should have been held personally responsible for the terrifying damage they caused.
At the local level, corrupt traditional “healers”, “sangomas”, “shamans” and “shamans” profit from providing “muthi” to the desperate by promising them that it will solve their personal problems, win hearts. lovers and will offer them wealth.
Such false promises made to the desperate must be treated as crimes.
Increasingly, parts of the human body are now also used to make muthi. A typical incident was the arrest in 2015 of two sangomas involved in the disappearance of three-year-old Leticia Nkentjane in Boschfontein, Mpumalanga.
The Nelspruit Regional Court then learned that sangomas, Jabulani Ndlovu and Themba Mnyambo allegedly used the girl’s body for the muthi. Both have denied the allegations.
Communities accusing people they deem to behave differently from themselves have also caused terrible harm. Again, a typical case occurred in 2015, when 12 people were arrested after a KwaMashu resident was beaten and burned alive by a mob who accused him of witchcraft.
Jabulani Nkunzikayibekwa Nxumalo was sleeping in his cabin in the informal settlement of Qhakaza when a mob broke into his house and severely beat him, after accusing him of being involved in witchcraft in the area. He died as a result of the attack.
Tanzania’s Legal and Human Rights Center (LHRC) has estimated that up to 500 “witches” are lynched each year in that country, claiming that around 3,000 people were killed there between 2005 and 2011 after being accused of witchcraft. . Again, a typical case was when seven people accused of witchcraft were burned alive in 2014
In 2015, then-Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe surprisingly blamed his then-rival, former Zimbabwean Vice-President Joice Mujuru, for being a witch for daring to challenge his leadership.
Speaking publicly about harmful beliefs in African communities is often also taboo.
Yet talking about and banning these false beliefs socially, culturally and legally is crucial to stop their spread.
* Gumede is president of Democracy Works Foundation and author of South Africa in BRICS (Tafelberg)
** The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the independent media.