Monday, September 22, 2008

13 family members die of 'traditional herbs' in South Africa

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.

For details on muti-related deaths and murders in South Africa, also see our archived reports:

Police superintendent Zandra Wiid 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.

200,000 registered traditional healers in SA:

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:

5 Opinion(s):

Adriana Stuijt said...

Consider this: here's a 15-year-old child being 'trained as a traditional healer'. As such he handles some of the deadliest poisons known to man - including fugu fish's livers and other deadly goodies. The only thing I can think of which would make people die within just minutes with blood streaming out of their noses would be some neurotoxin like fugu and several snake poisons. What kind of government would allow 17-year-olds become a 'trainee' in handling such dangeorus chemicals without any kind of real knowledge of toxicology or chemistry? The horrible thing about this story is that any bloody fool can walk into such a muti-shop and buy the most horrid poisons - so if your maid or gardener gets ticked off with you, no prob! They can muti your food in no time and none would be the wiser.

And these people actually are registered as health practitioners and are allowed to visit their patients in hospitals.

Anonymous said...

Hong Chang Corp. of Santa Fe Springs said that it was recalling frozen fish from China that might have been mislabeled and could contain puffer fish,(fugu) which carries a potentially deadly toxin.

The seafood importer began a voluntary recall after reports that two Chicago-area people became ill after eating soup that contained the fish, according to a statement.

The frozen shipments were packed in 22-pound boxes that were sold to wholesalers in California, Illinois and Hawaii beginning in September.

Each of the 282 boxes was labeled "Monk fish, gutted and head off, Product of China," the company said.

But the Food and Drug Administration confirmed Thursday that its tests of the fish had found potentially lethal amounts of tetrodotoxin, a substance usually associated with the skin and certain organs of the puffer fish.

"Clearly, we are concerned. We are taking it very seriously," said FDA spokeswoman Kathy McDermott.

Amazingly, pufferfish is a delicacy in Japan where over 10,000 tons are consumed a year at enormous expense: One can easily spend $200 per person at a fancy fugu restaurant.

So what’s the appeal of pufferfish-eating? At least some of the draw is the delicate taste of the flesh which has been described as “not unlike the smell of Spring rain falling on a rock.”

More importantly, traces of tetrodotoxin (present in the those parts of the pufferfish which are safe to consume) give a tingling sensation in the mouth, and some say, a subtle euphoria.

Finally, there may be a thrill factor at work here.

In 1958 when fugu restaurants were still poorly regulated, 176 people died in them, chopsticks in hand.

As late as 1975, a celebrated Kabuki actor, the eighth in a famous line called Mitsugoro Bando, who had been designated a “National Living Treasure” by the Japanese government, died in a Kyoto fugu restaurant.

The onset of symptoms occurs within minutes when the toxin is injected or inhaled but symptoms develop more slowly (10 to 40 minutes) with ingested toxin.

The first symptom of intoxication is a slight numbness of the lips and tongue, appearing between 20 minutes to three hours after eating poisonous pufferfish.

The next symptom is increasing paraesthesia in the face and extremities, which may be followed by sensations of lightness or floating.

Headache, epigastric pain, nausea, diarrhea, and/or vomiting may occur.

Occasionally, some reeling or difficulty in walking may occur.

The second stage of the intoxication is increasing paralysis.

Many victims are unable to move and even sitting may be difficult. The victim suffer by weakness, dilatation of pupils, twitching, tremor and loss of muscle coordination and loss of voice.

There is increasing respiratory distress. Paralysis increases and convulsions, mental impairment, and cardiac arrhythmia may occur.

The victim, although completely paralyzed, may be conscious and in some cases completely lucid until shortly before death.

Death usually occurs within four to six hours, with a known range of about 20 minutes to eight hours.

Anonymous said...

Why do they all have penis enlargement ads? Bang goes another urban myth.

Anonymous said...

Tragic. Their ignorance three-and-a-half centuries into exposure to western medicine is killing them needlessly.

Instead of promoting this hoodoo voodoo crap, the guvmunt should be educating these people that herbal /muti 'medicine' is just that: CRAP!

But no, they buckle to the traditional healers demands that have sway over people because it ensures votes and also do crazy shit like bestow "doctor" status on these crackpots.

Adriana Stuijt said...

Well can you blame them for adhering to the witch-doctor potions? Their own HEALTH MINISTER, for heaven's sake, a woman who was EDUCATED IN BRUSSELS and is a trained hospital administrator, is constantly interfering with the administration of western health care in her own hospitals! She concocted her own medicine which by the way, is being sold to the public health service as a 'herbal AIDS-cure'. She should set the example, for instance by undergoing public HIV-testing and encouraging her people to listen to Western science: when AIDS hit the Western world, only the people who practiced unsafe sex (homosexual sex clubs spring readily to mind) were the victims. Western youth has not been widely affected to AIDS - and this was mainly due to the fact that they listened to their governments' health advice regarding unsafe sex. It was as simple as that. AIDS is still around of course, in the West, and each new generation of kids have to be taught all over again how to prevent getting infected. In Europe, it's part of the high-school curriculum and one can also often see such programmes on school-TV. It's a government policy which works to keep our children and our next generation from dying out of AIDS.

Now compare this with the South African health minister's attitude. And her president Thabo Mbeki's attitude. They are both highly-educated people yet there they are, practicing and supporting voodoo-medicine and even passing laws allowing these poisoners into the public health service as 'registered health practitioners'.