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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Heroes, Villains and the State in South Africa's Witchcraft Zone
Author:Mavhungu, Khaukanani N.
Periodical:African Anthropologist (ISSN 1024-0969)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:ritual murder
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Politics and Government
External link:https://www.ajol.info/index.php/aa/article/view/23094/29908
Abstract:In the early 1990s, South Africa witnessed a dramatic escalation of witchcraft-related violence. The Northern Province was most affected. More than 485 people were killed as a result of both ritual murders and witchcraft accusations. The witchcraft struggle has divided the black community in this province into heroes and villains. As in the liberation struggle, neutrality is deemed unacceptable. The heroes see themselves as committed to freeing the community from the supernatural evil and call themselves comrades. Villains are those labelled witches. Participation in the struggle is not determined by age, party or gender, but it is influenced by a pervasive fear, which can be manipulated and which cuts across all members of the community. The State is seen as a passive third party whose alliance is contested by the two parties - heroes and villians. The new democratic government needs to develop legislative action on issues related to witchcraft. The article includes an analysis of three witchcraft-related cases from Venda and gives attention to the national and provincial governments' policies to eradicate witchcraft-related violence. Bibliogr., sum.