Comment Invited on Proposed Review of WITCHCRAFT SUPPRESSION ACT

by Daniela Ellerbeck
9 February 2016

The SA Law Reform Commission (SALRC) is currently reviewing the Witchcraft Suppression Act, 1957. In terms of the Act, all forms of witchcraft (including Wicca and traditional healers) are criminalised.

The SALRC’s review follows a request by the SA Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) for an investigation into the constitutionality of the Act. SAPRA argues that the Act should be repealed, on the basis that it violates the constitutional right to religious freedom (s 15); freedom of expression (s 16); equality (s 9); human dignity (s 10); freedom and security of the person (s 12); and the right to freedom of trade, occupation or profession (s 22). Other organisations such as the Traditional Healers Organisation (TH) and the SA Pagan Council (SAPC) have since joined in to support the review.

Having considered the request for a review, the SALRC (in its Discussion Paper) recommends that the current Act be repealed, but be replaced with a modern law that concerns itself with prohibiting conduct that is harmful to society, including specifically:

  •  Witchcraft accusations;
  • Witch findings;
  • Crimes associated with harmful witchcraft;  and
  • Muti killings.

The SALRC has invited public comment on its Discussion Paper and proposed recommendations, which can be read here.

The closing date for comments is 30 April 2016.


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