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Johannesburg - An organisation representing witches is demanding that Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile apologise for “inciting” witch-hunts.
The South African Pagan Rights Alliance (Sapra), said it was offended by statements Mbalula and Mjongile made in Nyanga on Sunday while commemorating the 35th anniversary of Solomon Mahlangu’s death. Mahlangu was an Umkhonto we Sizwe freedom fighter hanged by the apartheid regime in 1979.
In a reference to the DA, Mbalula told ANC supporters at the Lusaka Community Hall that the Western Cape was governed by witches. He asked for tokoloshes to be called to chase the DA away.
“South African witches object strongly to inflammatory and offensive accusations of ‘witchcraft’ uttered by (Mbalula) and ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile,” Sapra director Damon Leff said.
“Sapra calls on the African National Congress and the ANC-led government to cease making accusations of witchcraft and to desist from using a political platform to incite witch-hunts against opposition political parties by denigrating the dignity and standing witches of South African citizens who are witches,” Leff added.
He said there were unreported witch-hunts in the country on a daily basis and many people who did not practise witchcraft were driven out of their homes because of allegations similar to those made by Mbalula.
“For a politician to make such a statement in a public platform could incite violence. A simple thing like that led to mass killings in Rwanda,” he said.
Leff said they would like to remind Mbalula and Mjongile that according to the Witchcraft Suppression Act, accusations of witchcraft are punishable by a fine of up to R400 000 or up to 10 years imprisonment.
Theoretically the organisation could lodge a complaint with the police or report the ANC to the Independent Electoral Commission for inciting violence, he said and added Mbalula and Mjongile should apologise for their statements.
Sapra represented about 100 members nationwide, advocated for the rights of people who “identify their religion as witchcraft” and assisted with legal funding for people accused of being witches.
Mjongile refused to apologise and said the statements had not incited violence.
Mbalula’s spokesman, Anda Bici, said he would not apologise “for campaigning for the ANC”.
He said Mbalula’s comments, made in Xhosa, should not be taken literally.