Sorcery Sorcery Types Examples of Sorcery Protection and Punishment Witchcraft Trial Ritual Murder

© 2018 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Protection and Punishment Methods

Methods of Protection

The main method of protection against sorcery is from the traditional doctor in charge of that kgotla. Every new site and house is doctored by the kgotla doctor, as are Lands, kraals, and even new property such as ox wagons, cars, lorries and bicycles. By certain traditional people these protections may be annually renewed from the family lenaka (medicine horn). In times of special trouble the family may be "washed" with medicated water, and again certain traditional families may do this annually.

People may take special protections before going on a long journey, before taking a new job or going to work in the mines. The aim of all these protections is often to reflect sorcery back to the sorcerer herself/himself. Thus, if the sorcerer intended to bring bad luck to the victim, this hard luck is reflected to the sorcerer, for example, miscarriages, child deaths, misfortunes etc.

The Punishment of Sorcerers

When an individual or his property (including livestock or Lands) meets with misfortune or sickness, or even death, a traditional doctor is called to divine the causes. If the family traditional doctor divines sorcery as responsible and the bones indicate a certain sorcerer as responsible (a traditioanl doctor never names an individual, the bones only indicate the general characteristics) then the family attempt to catch the sorcerer. If they are able to do this the sorcerer may be reported to the Chief. Then there would be a kgotla case. (The Bangwaketse were one of three tribes who were granted the right to try sorcerers.) The sorcerer will then be commanded to “go dirolola” (literally this means to undo, or use an antidote), the victim, if the victim is still alive. If the victim subsequently recovers the sorcerer is then released with a stern warning. However in the old days if the victim had died, the sorcerer who had been proved guilty would be killed. In Kanye on the North Eastern side of the hill on top of which the main part of the village was built, is a high cliff called Phareng. Traditionally guilty sorcerers were thrown to their deaths off this cliff - their bodies being left for scavengers.

Another alternative traditional punishment for convicted sorcerers was exile, together with all their family, and sometimes even the whole kgotla. The small village of Lekgolobotlo is an example of such a sub-village that started through the banishment of sorcerers from Kanye. The sorcerers from a sub-kgotla neighbouring mine were convicted. When Chief Bathoen 11 (the present Chief's father) was still a boy his Rrakgadi (paternal aunt) was the Regent. She apparently had performed favours for various people and so when the time came for Bathoen to become Chief, certain people wished her to remain as Regent and tried to bewitch the young Chief. They were caught, as a result,the whole kgotla, even though most had not been involved, were exiled and had to build themselves a new village - later named Lekgolobotlo.

Nowadays there is no death penalty for convicted sorcerers (unless they are caught performing ritual murder). However there are still many cases at the kgotla involving the trial of sorcerers. Sorcery is a frequent cause of mental disorders, and is also a ground for divorce.