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#Covid19SA: Traditional Healers want ‘Essential Services’ Status

Traditional healers in the Eastern Cape have called on the government to categorise them as an essential service under the state of disaste...

Traditional healers in the Eastern Cape have called on the government to categorise them as an essential service under the state of disaster regulations. 

They are currently banned from performing ancestral rituals as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Traditional healers say medical health practitioners are being advantaged by the lockdown regulations. Traditional healer Thandeka Sakhela says they feel undermined by the government.

“We can’t perform our rituals because we were instructed not to do so. We are not able to consult with our patients. We are supposed to chant and dance to ancestral tunes, but we cannot. 

“We are afraid of police humiliation for instance here I am treating a number of people and I have been forced to send them back home as sick as they are, they are sick and I cannot help them,” says Sakhela.

The KwaZulu-Natal Traditional Healers Council has warned against traditional healers that claim to be able to cure coronavirus (COVID-19). This follows reports that some traditional leaders are spreading false information about the virus.
Traditional Healers Seek 'Essential Services' Status 

The Organisation of Traditional Healers in KwaZulu-Natal is concerned that fraudsters may take advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak by claiming to be able to heal the virus. Former Chairperson of the Council, Sazi Mhlongo has urged members of the public to be vigilant.

He says, “In this country, we have got a lot of charlatans. But I know also that there are people that are going to claim to be healing coronavirus. People must not go to those people because they are going to kill them. 

“No one has a cure right now, but we, as traditional healers, are used when there’s flu in the country. There are herbs that we use for the flu, but we cannot guarantee that those herbs that we have can heal this one. So, people must not play games with this one.”

The organisation’s Chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal, Sbusiso Gumede, has also called on traditional healers to immediately refer patients showing symptoms of coronavirus to clinics and hospitals.

He says, “We must be on alert that some imposters and people who will go around deceiving people that they treat this virus. Coming to another point, we, as traditional healers, when treating other illness, we look for symptoms, and if it we feel that a patient needs to go to the clinic or hospital, we do refer them accordingly. 

“Likewise, now we call on traditional healers to look for the symptoms of the coronavirus and do the same thing; refer those patients to clinics and hospitals immediately.” Meanwhile, traditional healers have called on government to involve them in the dissemination of information about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. - SABC

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