Spooked Toti residents fear witchcraft after grisly find on beach
Andre Beetge, the ward councillor of the area from Nyoni Rocks to Illovo Beach, said the residents were concerned after finding chicken carcasses, red and black candles with pins and razors stuck in them, and dolls with pins stuck in them on the beach.
Although he had not been able to link the findings to Satanism, traditional healers said some of the findings could be linked to witchcraft.
Beetge said he had done his own research and spoken to priests and sangomas about the items.
“It all happens under the cloak of darkness. The Zulus use candles and chickens. Indians also use chickens, but without the candles. Nigerians also do voodoo.”
He said the dolls were believed to be used in satanic rituals, while Nigerians would use some of the items in spells for love or infertility.
“Zulus don't practise with pins,” he said.
He said that when the rivers flowed strongly, red candles and chicken carcasses also often came down with them.
The items had been found regularly for some time, and residents removed at least 50 candles and carcasses a month, he said. Beetge said that items used and discarded in rituals at Isipingo Beach also washed up in his ward.
Sazi Mhlongo, chairperson of the Traditional Healers’ Association, said black and red candles were linked to witchcraft.
“I do not know more about the red and black candles with items in them because I am a healer and I use white candles. Black candles are linked to witchcraft,” he said.
Mhlongo said he had never heard of black and red candles with needles and razors in them being used for healing.
He encouraged people seeking traditional healing to consult healers close to home, because healers who offered their services from a distance could be exploiting them financially.
Phephisile Maseko, the national co-ordinator of the Traditional Healers’ Organisation, said people performed rituals at rivers and in the ocean because they believe that was where the water spirit lived, and that the water was pure.
“Some people do traditional rituals for cleansing or seeking blessings,” Maseko said.
She said candles were an innovation to create fire, and red candles were important in spirituality because they represented fire, energy and strength.
“The different coloured candles represent a spiritual balance, like white represents calmness,” she said.
Maseko added that slaughtering animals like chickens and goats was a cultural practice. However, she said this did not mean that people should not clean up after themselves.
Ashwin Trikamjee, the president of the SA Hindu Maha Sabha, said Hindus conducted prayers and rituals at the beach for religious reasons.
“Items that are used depend on the type of prayer or ritual being conducted. Sometimes they will just light a lamp with a cotton wick and oil or ghee (clarified butter),” he said.
Trikamjee said they did not use candles or animals during prayers and rituals.
Presha Soogrim, a marine educator at the SA Association for Marine Biological Research, said they often found candles and chickens during beach clean-ups that might have been used in rituals.
She said the association encouraged people not to dispose of these items on the beach as the litter could be fatal to marine animals.