Is the Witchcraft Suppression Act (No 3 of 1957) a medieval throwback to the Dark Ages for South Africans? Think again!
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Background: The Witchcraft Suppression Act (Act No 3, 1957) seems to have been totally ignored since 1994 as an old apartheid law by the new political dispensation. The question is: Why is this happening and can the Act can be seen as pre-modern and discriminatory to South Africans? Aims: The aim of the study was thus to determine what effect the Act has or can have in the future on the constitutional rights of the individual as well as groups and why the post-1994 government has kept it on the law books until now. Methods: The exploratory and descriptive research method, in line with the modern-day historical research approach to the investigation and reviewing of information, was used. Emphasis was on the use of primary research resources, like news papers, reports and articles, to reflect on present life situations, thinking, opinions, trends and activities around witchcraft. Research was also focussed on putting into perspective the future status of the Witchcraft Suppression Act in South Africa. The findings were offered in narrative form. Results: The putative error in keeping the Act on the statute books may have serious implications for every citizen, at present and in future. Agitation in public and in courts of law by certain individuals and groups, like the neo-pagans, traditional healers and human-rights activists that the Act is in conflict with the human-rights code of the Constitution, have become very intense and demanding. Pleas are heard that it must be repealed. Discussion: It seems that various other role-players can be identified, apart from the general opposition to the Act, who are backing it. It is specifically argued that the Act is successfully combatting serious crimes, such as murder and that it is not indiscriminately applied by law-enforcement authorities. Conclusions: Although Act No 3 of 1957 may be defined as a law with negative political and emotional connotations, six decades after its promulgation it is still working and may only be repealed if a better alternative can be put in place. Such an alternative has so far not been offered.
- Faculty of Humanities