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Repeal S.A. Witchcraft Suppression Act
Acct. ID: 186499
Notice ID: 15887
Posted: July 25th., 2008
This Notice has been viewed 5544 times
Proclaimed by: Damon Leff
Proclaimed from: Hoogekraal - southern Cape, South Africa
In a recent document published by the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) the following statement appears:
"Legislative reform to the Witchcraft Suppression Act 3 of 1957 - The South African Pagan Rights Alliance has requested the Commission to investigate whether the proposed Mpumalanga Witchcraft Suppression Bill (2007) and the existing Witchcraft Suppression Act 3 of 1957 undermine the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and rights of existing religious minorities in South Africa by deliberately criminalising and prohibiting rights of the religious minorities’ to exist and to practice their religion."
SAPRA submitted this appeal for legislative reform to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and the South African Law Reform Commission in February and July 2007. The SALRC has agreed to conduct a preliminary investigation in order to determine whether or not Act 3 should be repealed.
A meeting has been scheduled with the SALRC for Thursday 4 September 2008 in Pretoria. I will be attending this meeting on behalf of this Alliance and will be joined by Luke Martin (Convener of the South African Pagan Council) Dr. Dale Wallace (Academia) , Enmarie Potgieter, Samantha Perry, Phephsile Maseko (Traditional Healers Organisation) and Paul Slabbert (Lawyers for Human Rights) .
Act 3 was created with the intention of suppressing indigenous African practices, practices incorrectly identified as ‘witchcraft’. Traditional Healers will confirm that they have never and do not identify their traditional African practices and religions as ‘witchcraft’ and that they regard the existence of Act 3 as prejudicial to their constitutionally guaranteed right to belief and religion.
The continuing existence of Act 3 criminalises identified practices, some of which are associated with and practised by both Traditional Healers and self-defined Pagan Witches (Witches who follow a religious path identified as Paganism) . The Act criminalises South African citizens who do self-identify as Witches and who do practice Witchcraft.
In 1999 the Commission on Gender Equality issued ‘The Thohoyandou Declaration on Ending Witchcraft Violence’. The Commission recommended that the Witchcraft Suppression Act be repealed. Unfortunately we find no evidence that any attempt was made by the Commission to have said Act repealed as recommended. We trust that our own appeal for legislative reform will succeed on merit.
As self-defined Witches, members of the South African Pagan Rights Alliance and the South African Pagan Council will never accede to the regulation of our religion by government. We believe any attempt by government to regulate Witchcraft, which we regard as a bone-fide religion, would amount to religious discrimination by the state against a minority religion.
The Witchcraft Suppression Act 3 of 1957 is unconstitutional. To the extent to which this Act provides for the suppression of witchcraft, a recognised belief system and religion, this Act contradicts several sections of Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996) , including:
A. Section 1 (a)
1. The Republic of South Africa is one, sovereign, democratic state founded on the following values:
a. Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms.
B. Section 3 (2) (a)
3. (2) All citizens are
a. equally entitled to the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship
C. Section 7 (1) and (2)
7. (1) This Bill of Rights is a cornerstone of democracy in South Africa. It enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.
(2) The state must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights.
D. Section 9 (1) to (4)
9. (1) Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
(2) Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. To promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination may be taken.
(3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
(4) No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3) . National legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.
E. Section 10
10. Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.
F. Section 12 (1)
12. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person.
G. Section 15 (1)
15. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.
H. Section 16 (1) (b)
16. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes
b. freedom to receive or impart information or ideas;
I. Section 18
18. Everyone has the right to freedom of association.
J. Section 22
22. Every citizen has the right to choose their trade, occupation or
K. Section 31 (1)
31. (1) Persons belonging to a cultural, religious or linguistic community may not be denied the right, with other members of that community
a. to enjoy their culture, practise their religion and use their language; and
b. to form, join and maintain cultural, religious and linguistic associations and other organs of civil society.
This Alliance would argue that Act 3 must be declared unconstitutional and invalid to the extent to which this legislation identifies one group of persons (Witches) , on the grounds of belief (Witchcraft) , to be prohibited and criminal.
Convener: South African Pagan Rights Alliance
Telephone: (044) 8501297
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