By Hope Lebese
Traditional healers are divided on whether or not they should disclose information regarding their clients to authorities. This was after a sangoma reported his client to the police in May in connection to the Hillary Gardee murder.
Sipho Lawrence Mkhatswa was arrested after the Sangoma he allegedly went to for cleansing after he killed Gardee reported him to the police. Mkhatswa had not paid for the service.
Gogo Dabuluvalo Hlebeya, who is a traditional healer from Mpumalanga, said that she supports what the traditional healer did because it was a right thing to do. Hlebeya said she believes that the traditional healer did not perform the cleansing ritual correctly and got Mkhatswa arrested to avoid a dark curse. She continued, saying that if a traditional healer performs such a ritual in a case of murder, they might also carry the curse. Hlebeya said that she hoped that a lot of traditional healers could do the same as well, as a lot of them are going after money instead of healing people.
“I truly support that traditional healer and most definitely I would do the same 100%, we don’t condone such, we don’t condone murder,” said Hlebeya.
On the other hand, Joseph Tivane, a traditional healer, stated that traditional healers have rules and regulations that don’t allow them to disclose their clients' issues. Tivane said that traditional healers have committees or associations like the South Africa Healers Association and Africa National Healers Association that govern them.
“According to our jobs as sangomas, we have the rules that don’t allow us to talk about issues of people that we work with,” said Tivane.
The African National Healers Association, which is a non-profit organisation that describes itself as “an independent body spearheaded by a group of traditional practitioners”, could not be reached for comment, but has a code of conduct section on its website.
On the issue of confidentiality, the code of conduct says:
“All members, dully registered with the African National Healers Association: Shall observe the principle of confidentiality, and shall divulge information which has been brought to the attention as a result of the practised on the explicit permission given by the patient, if he/she is a major, the parent of guardian of a minor patient, the surviving spouse or minor of the deceased patient, when instructed by the court of law or where legally compelled to do so or in the explicit interest of the patient who is not able or is unfit to grant permission himself/herself.”