Electronic Communications & Transactions Bill: briefing; Vlakplaas Report: consideration
Arts and Culture
04 June 2002
A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
ARTS, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
4 June 2002
ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS & TRANSACTIONS BILL:BRIEFING; VLAKPLAAS REPORT: CONSIDERATION
Chairperson : Ms M A Njobe
Documents handed out
ARTS, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Electronic Communications & Transactions Bill [B8-2002]
South African Post Office Submission
Vlakplaas Report (see Appendix)
South African Post Office and Document exchange officials made submissions on the Electronic Communication and Transaction Bill.
Vlakplaas Report was accepted with further amendments suggested.
Briefing by Mr. T Xiphu from the South African Post Office and Mr. C Dick from the Document Exchange
Mr. Xiphu informed the Committee that the Post Office was involved in a number of Community Based programmes such as the Multi Media Centres in the previously disadvantaged areas where Small and Medium Enterprises conducted their business. At these centres students performed document binding and printing at minimal charges.
Mr. Dick emphasised the crucial aspect of the Electronic Communications & Transactions Bill being the electronic signature as espoused in clause 39 of the Bill where it proposed that all digital signatures should be substantiated by unique face-to-face identification of the applicant. He said the internet allowed people to create their own identity using foreign equipment and the face to face system would not allow private details of individuals to be unprotected. The other aim was to enhance business transactions.
It was proposed that the Post Office be given the status of preferred service provider however this would not exclude other service providers. Users who did not have access to the knowledge would have a certain benchmark. There were presently laws that dealt with the flow of information via the post office. It is necessary to convert signatures from paper to electronic mail system and as the Postmaster is also a Commissioner of Oaths the system this would enable documents to be certified online.
The Post Office is a fully state owned parastatal and is more accessible than other companies. They have taken the position to work more closely with the other parastatals and State Departments such as the Department of Home Affairs on their National Identification System. South Africa had to become more creative and innovative. Mark Shuttleworth's work was being well acknowledged as that of South Africa.
Mr. Opperman (DP) said he needed more information on face to face identification and asked if it would be linked internationally. What guarantees did they have in terms of curbing international fraud if it was linked.
Mr. Cassiem (IFP) thanked the officials on the digital certification and asked if this meant the Post Office would be alone or it would exist side by side with the other service providers. On the Domain registration he inquired about co.za domain and asked which other countries were taking this route.
Ms Mpaka (ANC) asked what programmes did the Post Office have in place for Human Resource Development in the rural areas.
Chairperson added that the Post Office must make sure that rural people were not left behind and asked for the possibility of their system reaching all other areas.
Mr. Xiphu said the issue of face to face identification was for the government to protect the people they were dealing with. He said if somebody was marketing on the Web it would be easy to validate transactions. People from rural areas who were receiving grants could create an identification on the face to face system.
Mr. Opperman commented that he had a problem with the personal verification.
Ms Mpaka asked how long would personal verification take to process. There were some people in the rural areas that were disabled so could not travel to the Post Office for the verification process. How would they handle such a situation?
Mr. Xiphu said face to face was a one time verification but they had not discussed the position of people who could not attend personal verification such as the disabled but they would make an exception on certain matters. He added that they were encouraging the people to buy South African products. They had not asked for Domain Registry but the Government had a right to own it. He said that USA had ownership of SA Dot Com there was a lot of Cyber squatting and the Government had responsibility in protecting the consumers.
Mr. Cassiem interjected and said at the moment for any registration of Dot Com they had to pay in Dollars but with the Post Office they would be able to pay in Rands.
Mr. Xiphu said with regard to Human Resource Development in the rural areas the Post Office was involved in many community development projects and whenever they deploy resources they included underserviced areas. They made sure that people were empowered and created services that were user friendly such as the touch screen. He said communication on the internet was primarily in English but in Asia they used their own languages.South Africa needed this facility in relation to its language and cultural diversity. Whenever they had a project to be accomplished they involved local labour. He mentioned the fact that crypting could be disrupted when a person communicated and a third person tried to intercept the communication. On the closure of Post Offices he said this was a different issue but in the past they never had a proper procedure for opening and closing Post Offices.
He said the technology they wanted to introduce was not going to isolate people from the rural areas. Government must become involved in the process.
Mr. Dick said internet protection was their prime concern and regulations had to be put in place. He inquired if co.za was sold to another person what would happen to the information
Ms Van Wyk reassured presenters that they were not insulting members by answering the basic question on the technological advancement because everybody in South Africa had been affected by the digital divide.
Ms Tsheole (ANC) asked if this new technology had been considered for the payment of grants and pensions if they have any capacity if Government finally decides about the provision of Basic Income Grant.
Ms Mndende (UDM) asked how was the Post Office going to protect people from the fraudulent activities from within.
Mr. Cassiem confessed that he was one of the cyber squatters on SA Syndicate.Com.
He asked about the line of accountability of Directors and referred the Clause 66 on the Powers and Duties of Directors. He would like to seem the reporting annually to the Portfolio Committee guided by the reporting procedure in Chapter 7,8,9 of the Constitution.
Ms Mpaka asked if people from the rural areas used voice recognition and what was the protection of consumers in this instance.
Ms Mbombo needed clarity on the Citizen Post Office and asked who were those citizens.
The Chairperson said there was a problem of time as their answering questions could inform members on whether the legislation could protect consumers. She asked how were they going to inform users about the programme because not everybody read pamphlets and what was their budget from the government.
Mr. Xiphu said new technology had a capacity of accommodating the payment of grants. Government would make sure that the infrastructure was strengthened. Turning to Biometrics that is the identification of people using their organs he said scientifically speaking no two people could have the same voice.
On fraud from within he accepted that there were limitations and they could not have monitors around people as they had to abide by the country's Labour Laws. They had charged many employees who had been caught committing crime and handed them to the relevant authorities. For Pensioners using the system there would be no extra charge. On the accountability of Directors he said this issue would have to be discussed further. He said the fact that they were internationally linked South Africans need to be protected and added that kids were known to have broken into Pentagon computer system. There would also be a register for cryptography service providers and in the event of a major catastrophe they would be able to help.
They wanted to make sure that the consumer was protected using face to face awareness, communication and education campaigns. He concluded by saying that there will be no additional requirement from Government and with the subsidy they were getting they would be able to provide the service.
Consideration of Vlakplaas report
The Chairperson said the difficulty with the report was the approach the Committee was supposed to take. She said there was a feeling that they should make more recommendations and some people felt that they did not subscribe to some beliefs.
Mr. Cassiem said he has been involved in the deliberations about the Vlakplaas issue with the previous Chairperson and said that there had been a Private Members Bill in connection with Vlakplaas. He said Members had to recognize history that Vlaakplaas had been a barbaric place and then it was supposed to become a place of healing.
Mr. Opperman said he believed that as soon as they encroach on the belief system Vlakplaas was not the only place where atrocities have been committed.
Ms Tsheole said she had not been attending the committee meetings for two months. She said the report should be taken as the accountability of Members on the basis of what happened during the visit was not trying to change the minds of people. They know that there had been many places where atrocities had been committed but they needed to have a symbolic place. That should be regarded as a first step in the healing of the nation and they did not have to subscribe to beliefs in order to adopt the report.
Ms Van Wyk said Tsheole had made quite a remark there are many horrible things that happened such as the skinning alive of Potgieter and Potgieterus had been named after the Chief who killed him.
Ms Mndende said her comments were from the report and she was the only person from the opposition who undertook the trip to Vlaakplaas. She was there when the traditional healers where complaining that they were called Witch Doctors. She thought witchcraft was an international phenomenon. Traditional healers belonged to various religions and not denominations because this would imply that they were all Christians. In the report it is claimed that Western Doctors worked directly with traditional healers in performing circumcision but that was not performed by Traditional Doctors but consulted with clans in this respect. She said the SPCA should not be allowed to interfere with the process of slaughtering because they do not do the same with the Muslim or Jewish ceremonies.
The Chairperson said members had been given the report long ago. Now they had to work towards its finalization if they start by defining terms now they were going to have a problem.
She said it even stated in the report that Witch Doctors were not traditional healers. She said that traditional healers wanted to be controlled so an interim Council that had been created. The question people of Western Doctors being better than traditional healers is false. It was necessary to interact with the Health Portfolio Committee on this issue
Ms Tsheole recommended that the report be adopted and there should be an interaction with the Health Committee. They should also acknowledge that what happened should be regarded as a first step towards healing.
Mr. Opperman said he accepted the report but did not endorse it because he did not agree that it is a first step towards healing.
Ms van Wyk suggested that they should also consult with the Portfolio Committee on Environmental and Tourism Affairs. She said she noticed that when she mentioned Potgieter that Members laughed and said if they look very broadly at the facts there was a phenomenon that people confessed to things so as to become fashionable. There were lots of things that were horrifying such as the Anglo Boer war when there had been no Truth Commission but she was not suggesting that the report should not be accepted.
Mr. Cassiem moved that they accept the report as report number one and then they should produce another report which they can call report number two from there they would proceed as starting point.
Chairperson asked whether they should send the report as it is.
Mr. Cassiem suggested that three people should look at what was discussed and have it included in the report and then send it to the National Assembly.
The meeting was adjourned.
1. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Works on Visit to Vlakplaas, dated 2002:
The Portfolio Committee of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (the Committee), having visited Vlakplaas from 14 to 16 December 2001, reports as follows:
1. National Centre for Traditional Healing and Reconciliation
One of the categories of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) is institutions, the oldest and most complex of which, with great potential to contribute to the 21st century, is traditional healing.
There are different aspects of traditional healing which need scrutiny, analysis and understanding so as to find their relevance to modern life and the healing systems of the 21st century within the context of the global village. The history of traditional healing in South Africa needs to be recorded. If South Africa is the cradle of humanity and the source of the first forms of life, traditional healing here must be the oldest in the world. As indicated by the different aspects of traditional healing, it is a basis, a point of reference of culture in South Africa, as well as a cultural guardian and custodian.
All public hearings and discussions on IKS have consistently painted out that, because traditional healing is one of the oldest forms of IKS, and one of the most enduring and functional, it features in all discussions and is crosscutting among categories, e.g. social, biodiversity and technology. In its relation to culture, it seeks to harmonise the nation through healing, and is consistent in linking healing and human life to its sources and basis. It is also insistent on relating the individual to the whole and the community to the individual.
The discussions held with the Traditional Healers' Forum (the Forum) from 14 to 16 December 2001 revealed two very distinct categories within traditional healing:
In common with most healing systems, the traditional healing system is linked to a system of beliefs. The basic belief system of traditional healing is the link between the science of healing and the prevailing power of ancestors and God. There is, however, special emphasis on the intervention and prevailing powers of ancestors. It is on this basis that healing, in its holistic approach to health, involves spiritual, mental and physical health, using Ukuphahla (praising the ancestors), Amathambo (bones) and Umuthi (medicine) to retain quality of life for the human being. Diagnosis of a person involves the environment, the community, the extended family and the family lineage into life after death, which makes people's dreams most relevant to their lives and their healing. The detail of all of these aspects overlap in respect of religion, science, technology and IKS in terms of rituals and symbols. Occidental medicines are also recognised and its healing systems and institutions are used through referrals.
If by witchcraft is meant activities informed by evil knowledge and evil intentions which harm other human beings, then most traditional healers, "Inyanga, Dingaka", disassociate themselves from it. However, as far as the system of traditional healing has objectives to protect, defend and promote (as captured in the African philosophy "Motho ke Motho ka Batho", that can be paraphrased as "a person is a person because of others") , all means can be used to defend the existence of that philosophy. It is here where the Constitution and the law, as with every other human activity in the country, must intervene as far as traditional healing is concerned. It is also for this reason that traditional healing in South Africa must be recognised, organised and located within the 21st century and global village context. It is only then that its potential for social, cultural and economic value and contribution can be fully realised.
4. 14-16 December - Vlakplaas
On these days, an unprecedented event took place in Pretoria, when approximately 700 traditional healers converged on the apartheid killing field of Vlakplaas. The aim was, first and foremost, to hold discussions about the role and future of traditional healing in the new South Africa and to signal to the nation the healing and reconciliatory role of traditional healing. In addition, the institution of
traditional healing wished to declare its position on many key issues of nation healing, witchcraft, crime, HIV/AIDS politics, culture, the economy, etc.
The deliverables for 14 to 16 December included:
(a) Laying a basis for the creation of one voice for one of the oldest institutions in our country.
(b) Signalling to the nation the role of traditional healing in the 21st century and in the global context.
(c) Considering the viability of Vlakplaas being transformed into a National Centre for Traditional Healing and Reconciliation.
(d) Expressing willingness to participate in the national effort for a moral regeneration of our society.
5. Meetings held: 14 and 15 December 2001
It is important to point out that the event held on the above mentioned days at Vlakplaas, which has set in motion a process for traditional healing to be recognised, reorganised, regularised and located in its own right and on the basis of its belief system within 21st century healing systems, was a joint organisational effort of the:
(b) National Department of Health
(c) National Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (the Department)
(d) National Department of Public Works
(e) National Forum of Traditional Healers
(f) IKS Steering Committee (Steering Committee)
(g) Clinix Health Group
6. Meetings held
(a) Clinix is the Organisation of African Doctors in SA and the Forum of Traditional Healers. Agreements were reached to explore collaboration and co-operation based on an understanding that the two could complement each other in respect of providing healing and health to the nation
(b) The Committee met with the Forum in a public hearing, with about 700 traditional healers
present. Agreement was reached to further explore the feasibility of Vlakplaas being transformed into a National Centre for Traditional Healing and Reconciliation, and that the Committee would explore the feasibility of legislation to effect the above.
(c) The steering Committee also met with the Forum, and agreement was reached to form a joint team to put in place terms of reference and a modus operandi for a task team to advise the Steering Committee on what must happen after 16 December, in order tp ensure the realisation of the emergence of the National Centre for Traditional Healing, effectively transforming Vlakplaas.
(d) Other discussions were held between the Department, the IKS Secretariat and the Department of Public Works, the Department of Health, the Committee, the National Forum of Traditional Healers, Clinix and the IKS Steering Committee. The result of these discussions was a common understanding on Vlakplaas and on what the objectives of the event of 15 and 16 December 2001 would be.
The Department and the Business Trust against Crime were the major funders of the event. Other funders were the CSIR, the NRF, SAFA, Eugene Jackson of sorghum Breweries (who contributed mqombothi) , SAB and the ARC, Dr Peter Matseke of Eskom (who provided electricity) , and the Municipality of Tshwane (who provided clean running water)
8. 16 December - National Reconciliation Day
On the evening of 15 December, a cow was slaughtered as a sacrifice and as a request for the ancestors to bless the proceedings on 16 December, which started at 08:00 and ended at 13:00. Each province, after sacrificing a chicken and a goat the previous day, had to drum, sing and dance to evoke the ancestors to bless the symbolic ceremony for reconciliation, and to realise the wishes, intentions and requests expressed in the main ceremony. It was a most moving moment as the approximately 700 traditional healers from the nine provinces came together with one agenda, expressing their wish to be recognised by the nation and to locate the oldest of the IKS institutions in the 21st century in support of the African Renaissance.
B. Observations and conclusion
Is it true that there are 200 000 traditional healers
and that the number is growing rapidly, with more and more professionals joining the ranks of this institution? Is it true that 80% of our population, across race, class, sex and religious denominations, use traditional healers? Is it true that an immune booster for HIV/AID5 patients exists collectively among traditional healers, to the extent that it can improve quality of life in this area? Is it true that, besides being a counselling service for a large section of our population, including terminally ill patients, traditional healing also serves as a community hospice? Are these facts? Are they significant and is it true that this sector, this institution which plays a very important role socially, especially among the poor, but also among the wealthy, educated and professional, remains informal, underground, unrecognised, unregulated? Is it true that besides the role it plays in healing and in health, it has a key role which is unrecognised in the environment?
The event of 14 to 16 December at the notorious Vlakplaas, which took place through the initiative and support of the stated organisations and individuals, was extremely important for South Africa. It was the opening of dialogue with the poor, disadvantaged and marginalised sections of our society, through their most trusted healing and health institution; it is a means to go back to the drawing board to consider the moral fibre and moral regeneration, as well as the spiritual, mental and physical health of the nation; it is a possibility given to us to re-explore the flora and fauna of our land by using oral research to understand the potential which exists within these for human life; it is a moment of potential to find successful treatments for diseases like malaria, cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc, and other chronic diseases like asthma; diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.
It is believed that if we engage this institution objectively we will unearth all kinds of possibilities. Here, in the year 2002, we will discover under-utilised human resources that are vital for our nation, but challenges us to think big and turn the unknown into the known to enhance this oldest form of practice, using its experience and transforming the institution from being one of resistance to being a tool of the African Renaissance.
Prepared by: Mongane Wally Serote IKS Chairperson
C. Objectives of visit
In November 1997, a group of African intellectuals met at Venda University. It was agreed that the Committee should spearhead the following process:
* Discuss and formulate strategies that can enhance public awareness of Science and Technology within marginalised and disadvantaged communities
* How the Public Awareness Programmes and processes can be implemented
It was further agreed that the National Centre of Indigeneous Knowledge at Vlakplaas was tasked with bringing to the fore the frustrations of IKS, also to take the IKS to a practical level. Vlakplaas, by virtue of its potential to grow natural vegetation, was identified as a site that could encourage job creation projects and as a place of healing. The focus would be to preserve herbs and plants linked to traditional healing. Other objectives of the visit were:
1. To safeguard, preserve, research and promote the cultural heritage and empirical IKS.
2. To ensure the survival of indigenous cultures and recognition of customary laws and practices.
3. To facilitate access to indigenous medicines and encourage traditional medical practitioners.
4. To integrate, enhance and validate traditional and local knowledge and practices.
5. To create, encourage and support SMMEs in the field of IKS.
D Delegation Delegation to Vlakplaas
Dr M W Serote Leader of delegation (ABC)
Mr S L Dithebe ANC
Mrs M A A Njobe ANC
Ms N M Tsheole ANC
Mrs S F Baloyi ANC
Mrs N D Mbombo ANC
Ms H M Mpaka ANC
Ms N S Mtsweni ANC
Ms 0 N Mndende UDM
Ms T Gayi Committee secretary
Ms S Mashao Committee Assistant
Menbers of Forum
Mr S J Mhlongo kwazulu -Natal ( chairperson)
Mr S Nduku Eastern cape
Mr L Moropodi Gauteng
Ms M Gamndana Mpumalanga
Mrs M E Mahumapelo Northern Cape
Mr M Ramothwalo Northern Province
Ms N Hawker Western Cape
Mr J Mobi Free State
Ms M Motsiwa North West
Ms S Williams Project Co-ordinator
Mr 0 Ntsoane
Ms J Muf amadi
Dr P M Guma
Mr B Mtimkhulu
Ms J Chawapiwa-Pama
Arrival and welcoming - 14 December 2002
The first group of people to arrive at Vlakplaas was the Forum and the Committee Secretariat. Upon arrival, caterers were already busy and lunch was served.
The first meeting was held between Forum members and the
Clinix. In attendance was Dr Serote, Mr Peter Matseke
(MD Clinix), Dr Matsidiso Kaeane (Vaal Independent
Practitioners' Association) , Dr T P Thulo (Clinix) and
Jean Chawapiwa-Pama (CSIR Communication) , all members of
The delegation from Clinix gave us a brief background about Clinix. It was formed by a group of black doctors, whose task was to organise all general practitioners to work together in terms of managing projects related to HIV and traditional healing.
The traditional healers raised concerns on:
* The delegation's relationship with "Doctors for Life", who came to Parliament and created a bad impress ion
* The attitude doctors have when it comes to traditional healing
* A lack of respect and not being recognised as healers
* Doctors who do not refer patients to them
* Herbs originally found by them, but them not being mentioned in the end product
* Traditional healers are not recognised by medical Aid schemes
The delegation responded to these concerns very
positively - they are not related to "Doctors for Life".
It has been their wish to work with traditional healers.
They found that some of their diagnoses were good - for
example, when a patient needed a blood, test they would refer him to hospital. There are doctors who work directly with traditional healers and show them how to perform circumcision. They have been to Nigeria, where they observed that many western doctors do work with traditional healers. The doctors are prepared to form a very close relationship, work on areas of common interest and share knowledge they have. A lack of communication is the main cause for the gap between doctors and traditional healers.
Task team meeting with members of Forum - 14 December
A second meeting was held with the Forum and IKS, and was chaired by Dr Serote. All Forum members were present, except one from North West. Gogo Stella reported back, being leader of the task team. The main purpose of the meeting was for the task team to report back on the logistics, preparations and developments of the function. This included the hiring of tents for the nine provinces, chairs, toilets and catering.
Dr Serote introduced members of the task team, and briefed Forum members on how the task team had been formed. It was elected on 24 November 2001 to see to the smooth running of and logistics behind the organisation of the event. The report of the task team was then delivered by Ms Stella Williams.
Report of task team
* Ms Stella Williams explained the situation at Vlakplaas, and how everything was organised up to the last day. Nine tents were organised for each province, and there was also a tent that served as dining hall for guests and MPs. One tent was reserved for meetings and two tents served as bathrooms for females and males. Toilets were also organised and kept clean at all times
* Catering was organised
* The SAPS was there for security reasons 24 hours a day
* Paramedics were available for emergencies
* National Sorghum Brewery - traditional brewery
* SAPS - stage
* Jacksons - two cows
* SA Breweries - beer
* The Department
It being common knowledge that the place was not familiar to most people, some were not even sure if the ceremony would erase the past and whether people were going to react positively to what was being done at Vlakplaas. A lot of questions were raised by concerned individuals, especially traditional healers.
* What will happen after 16 December 20Q1
* Will more people visit the place, or is the place going to be restricted
Each province could offer a chicken and a goat as sacrifice to the ancestors. By this, they were uniting the spirit and souls of the people who died at Vlakplaas and their ancestors, so as to ensure that they would rest in peace. They were healing the wounds of those who had suffered during the apartheid era, who had died because they believed they have a right to be free.
During this time all the traditional healers were beating drums, dancing and singing, according to their different cultures. One could see they were really feeling that the past was behind them. They were pouring their hearts out to the ancestors, and were very emotional. All prayers and sacrifices meant that they were there to claim the place.
15 December 2001
A meeting was held between the Committee, the Forum and KS. The meeting was chaired by Ms Tsheole, MP.
Dr Serote welcomed all the people who came from different provinces to honour this special day. He mentioned that people who died at Vlakplaas were freedom fighters, fighting for liberation and democracy for all in South Africa.
Traditional healers were there to share views with MPs ant come up with questions and comments:
* How will traditional healers use Vlakplaas, should t be given to them
* As they were moving around, they asked where they could plant traditional herbs
* How an Act of Parliament could help them
* Why were hospitals not sending people to them, even though they had sent patients to hospitals
* What was the difference between traditional healers who heal and those who practice witchcraft
Traditional healers were so impressed to be given an opportunity to express their views that they said it was the first time they felt the government was starting to recognise their existence, even before any Act existed. It was an historic occasion - the healers felt proud to see MPs listening to their views and beliefs and watching their performances.
They were quite happy, although there was no formal law recognising them at that point, but the presence of government delegations meant a lot to them. They did not want to dwell on history, when the government treated them very badly. This has been overcome by what was happening at that moment.
The traditional healers' mission to visit Vlakplaas was to set the record straight, because a lot of incorrect information had been spread about them and they had not had a chance to rectify these. They also appreciated the presence of the media, as they felt these were the people broadcasting wrong information, be it rape or witchcraft. They were also concerned about the absence of white MPs during such a memorable occasion.
They believed the rivers and mountains are home to the ancestors, but in Vlakplaas it was the other way round These were used for killing people by the apartheid government. They felt the meeting was so useful to them because in their history it was the first time to meet as traditional healers from all nine provinces of South Africa.
They explained themselves by pointing out that there are different categories of traditional healers - there are those born with the calling, and then those who, when they grow up, experience a need to join the calling. There are traditional healers who specialise in treating certain kinds of sicknesses and illnesses.
They would appreciate if an agreement could be reached with the government on the issue of Vlakplaas. Above all, they hoped to convert the place into a learning school for traditional healers, and to build a hospital so that those in the learning stage could learn healing and plant herbs there, and would also be able to test the herbs, which could be of valuable use for the community. It could be used as a laboratory and a traditional healers hospital.
Some traditional healers who went to the river, found
some valuable and good herbs, used to cure certain illness. One example was that of a healer recognising a herb that can help someone who does not have enough blood.
They pleaded with MPs and government officials to take their request and knowledge to Parliament - that they are able to cure many diseases, including high blood pressure. Their main problem as traditional healers that they need funds to run some of their projects. do not get financial assistance from banks to buy houses. Some of them, although illiterate, have an abundance of knowledge of herbs, healing, plant life, environmental care, etc. They hoped that the meeting would be the start of creating a resource centre on traditional healing, based on research and experience.
Traditional Leaders (Chiefs) also voiced their gratitude for being invited to such an historical event. They could go back to their respective provinces with proper information about traditional healing. They said that in their culture traditional healing was their foundation. They also knew of some church leaders who used herbs to strengthen their churches, but in cases like these they did not want to come forward.
16 December 2001
The meeting on the last day of the ceremony was chaired by Gogo Stella. The provinces wanted to show their traditional dances, and every province was given a chance to do so.
Dr Serote greeted everyone and confirmed that it was a very beautiful ceremony and that the sun was shining, also a sign of beauty. For the past three days beautiful things have been done - meetings about Vlakplaas becoming a Centre for Traditional Healing; we have prayed to God to bless us; and the traditional healers have also talked to our ancestors so that the whole ceremony could be pleasant, as it has been.
Dr Serote assured the people that the spirit of no surrender of the freedom fighters who were murdered here, exists in Parliament as well, and that it also exists in the history of traditional healing, which means that a spirit of no surrender will also apply to Vlakplaas to help keep this place for us.
He thanked everyone who worked with him from the beginning in planning the ceremony. He thanked the MPs for making time to attend, despite their many commitments. Even when the issue of Vlakplaas was discussed, they were also keen to make this a day to remember and also to be there when this place was recognised as the Centre for Traditional Healing and reconciliation. A word of special appreciation was
extended to people like Gogo Stella Williams who went out of her way to make the event as memorable and as special as it was, IKS members who were always there when asked to attend meetings, Azeza Fredericks, who could not attend the ceremony due to religious constraints but who also worked very hard to make the event a success, Jean Chawapiwa-Pama (CSIR Communications) and her team who worked tirelessly in respect of commucations, making sure that everyone was informed about the event, Natasha Ramiah, Tamara Cayi (Committee Secretary) and Shirly Mashao (Committee Assistant) for the wonderful work they have done The Chairperson of the Forum was also thanked for everything he had taught us He also mentioned that he had worked with Mr Mhlongo, and as a result a task team was formed that would see how the place could be used in future.
Dr Serote further mentioned some of the problems that traditional healers are experiencing and some of the bad things they are always accused of. For instance, traditional healers are always accused of referring people who are HIV-positive to sleep with little babies so that the disease can be cured traditional healers claim that they never tell people to do that. They are always accused of stealing children to make medicine. All this is not true about traditional healers, as they heal people, not kill them. There is a difference between them and witch doctors, those believed to practise witchcraft.
Speaking on behalf of the Committee, Dr Serote assured everyone that all MPs present there to witness the event would listen to everything said and done and forward it to Parliament. He also told all traditional healers that the doors of Parliament are wide open for them if they need to discuss anything, and also assured them that the partnership they have formed will be effective and efficient. Also speaking on behalf of everyone there, he wanted the President of the country to know that here was an African Renaissance and that history has been started at Vlakplaas. They also wanted him to know everything about what has been discussed and done at Vlaknlaas.
The following session was chaired by Mr Solly Nduku
Mr Nduku assked all traditional healers to sing traditional Zulu songs, and the Chairperson of the traditional Healers in KwaZulu-Natal was also asked to come forward. Each group was given 15 minutes to come forward and perform their dances.
Mr Mhlongo greeted everyone and thanked Dr Serote for bringing them to Vlakplaas and to experience such a wonderful ceremony. He continued by saying that he had been suspicious that Baba Serote is a traditional healer and has confronted him about that- he was told that his
great-grandfather and his grandfather were traditional healers. He then introduced the Members of the Traditional Healers' Forum and asked them to come forward: Baba Mobi (Orange Free State) , Ms Nomsa Hawker (Western Cape) , Mr Solloy Nduku (Eastern Cape) Baba Moropdl (Oauteng) , Baba Ramotwala (Northern Province) MaDlamini Gamndana (Mpumalanga)
After introducing all the members of the Forum, Mr Mhlongo said there were allegations about encouraging people to rape children to cure HIV/AIDS, and that he believed that none of the traditional healers present there had ever made such a statement. If there was any such person, he would ask that person to come forward. He urged traditional healers to distance themselves from people who do dirty things in the name of holiness.
On the issue of HIV/AIDS, they categorically denied the accusations put to them. He pleaded to traditional healers to consider the HIV/AIDS matter seriously, and not to neglect it. [There is a Zulu idiom, of which the literal translation is: "Once you are attacked, the attacker can kill you, therefore everyone must be extremely careful".) He also said he believed that in Africa there is a cure for AIDS and that it lies upon our shoulders to go out there and search for the cure Furthermore, he said he believed in our medicine, but also in our ancestors to enlighten and assist us in discovering the cure and to protect us, as we are now going to be protected from those "thieves" who come and steal our knowledge and medicine and sell these at higher prices. He urged the government to encourage doctors and hospitals to send people to traditional healers so that they can also participate in the healing of this deadly disease.
He went on to say that that day was the Day of African Renaissance, to revive humanity, because seemingly humanity has lost "ubuntu " . People are killing one another, they commit suicide, they rape children and are disrespective of elders. This all shows that we have lost "ubuntu". He concluded by saying that traditional healers have taken a back-seat in leading, which is why society has lost direction.
One of the major problems of traditional healers is the media, who is always reporting badly on traditional healers and not praising them when they perform well. The Ukuthahla KweSizwe document was distributed to everyone and was read by Mr Mhlongo. Everyone was asked to stand and follow him as he read the document.
1. Part of the land can be used to grow herbs, as the area is known to be very rich in herbs. Some traditional healers have already recognised some of
the herbs they use to heal people and urged that no herbs are taken until the ceremony is over and until the place is declared a tourism centre.
2. A museum could also be built to reflect what is happening at Vlakplaas, so that tourists and families could visit it and learn more.
3. The place could also act as a tourism village, where each and every South African culture could be represented.
4 A business plan needs to be drawn up in accordance with the pace of the organisation, and it should be 6O% funded by the government.
5. Private companies should be operating there.
6. There should be a clinic where general practitioners and traditional healers could have their practices.
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