11 December 2012

South Africa: Mpumalanga Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC, Mr Vusi Shongwe Says Suspicions of Witchcraft Must Not Lead to Abuse of Old People

press release

Mpumalanga Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC, Mr Vusi Shongwe says people must stop abusing old people who are suspected of practising witchcraft. Shongwe was speaking during the closing ceremony of the 16 Days of Activism for no violence against women and children held in Boelang near Acornhoek yesterday, 10 December 2012.

Speaking to the thousands of community members who attended the event, Shongwe said that it is abuse to beat, evict and burn people's houses with the belief that they are practising witchcraft and police will harshly deal with such deeds.

"People must refrain from taking law into their own hands, besides, witchcraft mostly remain as suspicions and cannot be proven," said Shongwe.

Such tendencies were believed to be more prevalent in areas of Bushbuckridge where people, mostly old will be killed or evicted from their communities with suspicions that they are practising witchcraft. Cases of domestic violence are also common in the area and few cases have been concluded as victims withdrawn or did not give sufficient evidence.

"This also impact negatively on police and dents the good work which police do and awareness campaigns done by government," said Shongwe.

He further called on the Department of Justice to ensure that perpetrators of abuse are convicted to encourage victims to report abuse. Speaking in the same event was SAPS Major General Wilson Kekana who said that cases of abuse of women and children are an uphill battle as they happen on regular basis.

"Abuse happens inside houses and families and it is difficult for police to stop it unless the victims report and testify. Most cases end up being withdrawn from court because of lack of testimonies and this affects service delivery as we cannot win the battle of fighting against abuse," said Kekana.

Meanwhile, Provincial Community Police Forum Secretary Ms Linah Mazibuko said men must propose and not rape.

"Blaming rape or harassment on how women dress must come to an end as we have got rights to dress however we want," said Mazibuko.

The MEC later with Executive Mayor of Ehlanzeni District Municipality Ms Letta Shongwe and Executive Mayor of Bushbuckridge Mr Renias Khumalo handed over food parcels to ten families donated by South African Social Security Agency.

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