South Africa: Traditional Healers Gather to Clean Mpumalanga's Polluted Rivers

29 November 2022

Traditional healer Fannie Mashaba is pleading with communities to take care of their waste and stop polluting rivers and streams.

Mashaba of the Hlanganiphani Indigenous Knowledge (HIK) said traditional healers work around the clock trying to clean the rivers and streams around Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga but it's a losing battle.

"Most of our rivers around Bushbuckridge are polluted," he said.

"We are trying our best to keep the rivers clean because they form part of the tools we use and most of the time we take our patients to the rivers for cleansing."

As well as being vital for local ecosystems and wildlife to thrive, clean water allows certain medicinal plants to grow on the river banks.

Mashaba said that previously there was a formal project which systematically cleaned the river and cleared it of rubbish.

However, the initiative had to be put on hold because of financial constraints so they decided to come together and form a group of healers and continue with the work of cleaning the rivers. He has urged communities situated next to the rivers to stop using them as dumping sites.

"Whenever we get a chance to interact with the communities we share information about the dangers of polluting the rivers," said Mashaba.

December Ndlovu of the Mpumalanga Water Caucus has welcomed the fact that healers are continuing to clean the rivers.

"When rivers are not clean it not only affects people. Animals and insects also die as a result of this," he said.

"In my village we also clean the local river to make sure that the water is clean and usable."

He said cleaning the water is everyone's responsibility and communities must stand up and clean the rivers situated near them.

"We must not wait for the government to come and clean the water for us."

Local resident Tumelo Mokoena confirmed that many rivers around Bushbuckridge are being used as dumping sites.

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