The Mazubane family of KwaZulu-Natal regularly carried out a ritual of taking herbal medicine. This Sunday they were found, blood streaming from their noses, by a neighbour who'd stopped by to borrow a Bible...
Sept 22 2008 -- PADDOCK, Dingleton township, Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal. According to the police, the Mazubane family had been carrying out a regular ritual of taking herbal medicine when they began collapsing... blood streaming from their noses.
Thirteen members of the Mazubane family were found dead in their home near Port Shepstone on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast. Police and the only two surviving family members suspect they may have consumed a fatal herbal concoction.
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Police superintendent Zandra Wiid Dingletonemail@example.com said only two male members of the extended tribal family survived - because they weren't at home at the time.
On Sunday, a neighbour - who had gone to borrow a Bible from the family - found the 13 bodies in the lounge of the family's Dingleton home. The home is situated in an informal settlement that borders the resort town of Paddock. They all had blood dripping from their noses when they were found.
- Dead were a two-week-old baby, four boys aged between two and seven, a 17-year-old boy, a 21-year-old man, four women in their 30s and two 55-year-olds. Wiid said these were the grandparents, their children and grandchildren.
It was believed that the 17-year-old boy, a trainee 'traditional healer', (sangoma) had administered the deadly concoction.A full 70 percent of all South Africans (pop.43-million) consult traditional healers - it's a multimillion rand industry, valued at an estimated R250-million a year.
In 2004, South Africa's parliament unanimously approved the Traditional Health Practitioners Bill -- registering the country's 200,000 traditional healers as official 'health care practitioners' who are even allowed to practice their trade in public hospitals.
The Act stipulates that traditional healers are not allowed to "diagnose or treat terminal diseases, including AIDS and cancer" although there is hardly any control if they were to do so.
They are registered through their own peer-review council, the Traditional Health Practitioners Council of SA.
"It is alleged that one family member who was trained as a traditional healer gave them a certain herbal medicine which is suspected to have been the cause of the deaths," Wiid said.
The brother of the trainee healer, David Mazubane, 29, said he was still in shock. He said he had met his younger brother in Port Shepstone "but he didn't tell me what he was going to do. It's all a shock to me."
He said his younger brother had started training as a traditional healer when he was 15. On Monday, police said post mortems were being carried out.The family were last seen on Saturday evening and police suspect the ritual may have been carried out overnight.
Police believe the trainee may have accidentally given them the wrong herbs.The name of the herbal medicine used was still unknown. "We don't know what the purpose was for taking it, or if the family had been sick at the time," she said.
Police said that according to residents, the Mazubane clan were well known and respected people in the community. The names of the victims would be released on Tuesday, police said. An inquest docket had been opened. -
Background on Traditional healers and medicines in South Africa: http://www.tac.org.za/Documents/ResearchPapers/Traditional_Medicine_briefing.pdfhttp://www.hst.org.za/news/20040494