SAPS targets Occultists, Esoterics and Pagans
South African Police Services ‘Occult crime unit’ Warrant Officer says unit targets Occultists (including Witches and Satanists), Esoterics and Pagans.
Warrant Officer Matsena from the provincial occult department in Durban addressed social workers, nurses, teachers, psychiatrists and welfare representatives to equip them with knowledge on the occult. According to W/O Matsena, KwaZulu-Natal has a major Satanism problem. To his knowledge, there are not many Satanists in Newcastle, but rather more people dabbling in magic and witchcraft. “Estcourt has a Satanism problem, but people are not reporting it,” said W/O Matsena. The occult unit investigates crimes relating to witchcraft, magic, Paganism, Satanism, muti and esoteric societies. W/O Matsena said there was a difference between possession, magic and witchcraft and going to a priest was not always a bad idea. “ 
 Paganists (sic) defend themselves against a new ‘Dark Ages’
Newcastle Sun – July 26, 2013 | Quinton Boucher
“There has never been any demonic possesion or magic related crimes proven in a court of law.” This was the emphatic claim of a pagan, following the visit by a member of the SAPS Occult Unit to a Victim Empowerment Victim Programme (VEP) meeting held last Thursday.Warrant Officer Matsena from the provincial occult department in Durban addressed social workers, nurses, teachers, psychiatrists and welfare representatives to equip them with knowledge on the occult. According to W/O Matsena, KwaZulu-Natal has a major Satanism problem. To his knowledge, there are not many Satanists in Newcastle, but rather more people dabbling in magic and witchcraft. “Estcourt has a Satanism problem, but people are not reporting it,” said W/O Matsena. The occult unit investigates crimes relating to witchcraft, magic, Paganism, Satanism, muti and esoteric societies. W/O Matsena said there was a difference between possession, magic and witchcraft and going to a priest was not always a bad idea. “You must just be careful which priest you use, as there are con artists who take advantage of people.” However, a psychiatrist at the meeting said it was often difficult for a medical professional to diagnose a person as possessed. “From my side, I would diagnose a person as schizophrenic or as delusional.” A local pagan, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims she views the occult unit as a biased and useless part of the SAPS. “The occult unit is made up of Christians and are therefore biased and consider any other form of belief as from the devil. If someone murders, rapes or mutilates another person, it is a crime regardless of a person’s religious beliefs.”
According to Damon Leff from the South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA), there are no official or credible statistics available to indicate the number of self-identifying pagans in South Africa. Mr Leff added there are certain misconceptions about pagans. “There is a general misconception that paganism is only Wicca, the term used to identify a specific ‘witchcraft’ religion founded in the 1950’s by Gerald Gardner. Wicca is actually identified as a neo-pagan religion because of its lack of historically verified existence (as a religion) in pre-Christian societies. Modern paganism is a new religious movement, not a religion, which includes many modern reconstructed ‘pagan’ religions which find their origin within pre-Christian European cultures.” These pagan religions include Asatru (reconstructed from Germanic speaking cultures), Druidry, classical Greek and Roman religion, and Kemeticism (Egyptian religion). “In South Africa, however, both witches and Wiccans, including other forms of neo-pagan witchcraft such as Stregheria, are identified as belonging to Paganism as a new religious movement. Most, but not all, public pagan groups in South Africa are Wiccan.”
While Mr Leff says that South African pagans have never been truly persecuted, he claims they are collectively and incorrectly perceived by the general populace as a threat to the current Christian hegemony and society. “Witches in particular do however experience prejudice and hostile discrimination, whether it be in child custody cases, employment, or interaction with government authorities, but pagan witches are not the real victims of actual violent witchhunts in South Africa. We are naturally concerned the victims of witchhunts in this country do not identify as witches, but are innocent victims of prejudice, both religious and cultural, against witchcraft.” Mr Leff explained SAPRA has advocated against witch-hunts since 2008, and submitted an appeal to the SA Law Reform Commission in February 2007 to have the 1957 Witchcraft Suppression Act repealed on the grounds that it discriminates against witches by criminalising them. SAPRA has consistently argued that all prejudicial definitions of the word ‘witch’ describe a wholly unrealistic and fabricated depiction of actual living witches today, irrespective of the culture they originate from, and that such definitions ascribe implausible supernatural abilities and powers to same which contradict both the laws of nature and common sense evidence.
SAPRA would suggest the following morally neutral definition accurately describes what witchcraft truly is, irrespective of the cultural context in which it finds itself being practiced: Witchcraft may correctly be defined as: i) The practice of sympathetic folk magic (which includes divination, herbalism and ritual) ii) A modern neo-pagan religion (as Wicca, Stregheria) Witchcraft is iii) Not synonymous with “black” (malevolent) magic, and iv) Not cognate to / with traditional African religiomagical belief systems. While Satanism is not deemed as paganism, Mr Leff says Satanism, like other occult religious minorities including witchcraft, have been and are being scapegoated by evangelical Christian commentators, the SAPS Occult Crime Unit, government ministers and MECs, and the media in general, as dangerous beliefs which lead to criminal acts. “This repeated allegation remains false, and constitutes deliberate hate speech against constitutionally protected religious minorities.”
While agreeing with Mr Leff, the local pagan said the occult unit was feeding an epidemic which is currently plaguing Africa. “Witch burning seems to be a problem again: it is like we are going back to the Dark Ages. It all starts with an unqualified person making a statement about a person being a witch and things get out of hand.” Comparing the occult unit to the Catholic Church in the Inquistion era, the pagan claims Paganism as a whole is a peaceful religion, based on nature worship and the divine feminine and is seriously misunderstood. “Pagans do not believe in Satan at all and are in no way linked to Satanism. Satanism is a Judeo-Christian phenomenon as Satan is viewed as the opponent of God.” The source does not believe there is a satanic epidemic at all and thinks that the cause of alleged Satanism can be linked to children rebelling against their parents and their belief systems. “They most likely just painted some symbols and either hurt themselves or others and blame it all on the devil.” According to the source, he further believes that it is way too easy for people to blame witchcraft and Satanism when found committing a crime. “A person is responsible for their own actions, not their religion.” In conclusion, the pagan said those who claim possession should be taken to either a pyschologist or a phsyciatrist. “They might have issues at home or schizophrenia and with the right help and treatment, the problem will most likely go away. As for entities plaguing schools, it could be mass hysteria as teenagers are often easily influenced. Get to the cause and see what the actual problem is.”