‘Satanic panic’ grips schools

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Durban - The KZN Department of Education was aware of Satanic incidents and MEC Senzo Mchunu had repeatedly called on churches and others to help address the issue.

And although the KZN department had not signed a memorandum of understanding with religious groups to address “harmful religious practices” in schools like the Gauteng Education Department did last week, Mchunu’s calls for assistance was the same, said spokesman Muzi Mahlambi.

“It is an invitation to churches and people, like psychologists, to go into schools to help us,” he said.

Satanism in KZN schools was on the rise and incidents of “possession” was a worry to the department.

 It was reported last week that some pupils in Newlands East Secondary School believed they had seen snakes, while others behaved as if they were possessed, screaming uncontrollably. In a separate incident, a pupil was found practising witchcraft in the toilets at Westcliff Secondary in Chatsworth.

 Linda Naidoo, Childline director, said she believed that children were dabbling in Satanism for something different.

It was not just happening in school playgrounds, but also outside school premises.

Satanists are alleged to have fatally stabbed 14-year-old Kamogetswe Sefularo in Randfontein earlier this month.

Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy visited Kamogetswe’s school and confirmed that 10 pupils identified as being involved in Satanism - but not directly linked to the murder - had been suspended.

When Creecy later signed the memorandum of understanding with religious groups to help address “harmful religious practices” in schools.

The anti-harmful religious practice strategy would protect pupils from spiritual attacks and abuse.

The move has angered the South African Pagan Rights Alliance (Sapra) which has lodged a hate speech complaint against Creecy with the SA Human Rights Commission.

“Sapra’s members and pagans generally, many of whom are practising occultists, are concerned that their own children may be victimised by educators as a result of the proposed ‘harmful practices’ policy,” alliance director Damon Leff said.

Recent cases of violence in schools that had been attributed to Satanism had nothing to do with the practice of Satanism as a religion, he said.

“Actual Satanic belief systems do not encourage violence or criminal behaviour. Children who perpetrate heinous crimes may use allegations of Satanism or ‘the devil’ as an excuse for their criminal behaviour, but we must distinguish between religion and a perversion of that religion.”

Satanism as a religion had to be acknowledged by education authorities as a constitutionally protected right, he said.

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