The Gauteng Department of Education is piloting a handbook to help educators and parents deal with Satanism, Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy confirmed this week.
Creecy, who signed a memorandum of understanding with faith-based organisations on Tuesday (March 18) to help deal with teenage pregnancies, violence, alcohol abuse, Satanism and the occult in schools, said: “There have been allegations of harmful religious practices at Lukhanyo Secondary School”.
Religious leaders together with the department of education are using the handbook at the school, near Randfontein, where Keamogetswe Sefularo died in an allegedly Satanic killing by fellow pupils. If the book is successful in its trial run it will continue in more schools in Gauteng.
The book has information on what signs to look out for, and where and how to get help if you suspect that a child is involved in the occult. Creecy said parental and community involvement was important in keeping pupils away from experimenting with harmful aspects of the occult and Satanism.
Seventeen-year-old Kamogetswe Sefularo was stabbed to death in her chest, throat and abdomen by a 15-year-old girl who allegedly drank her blood afterwards, South Africa’s Eye Witness News reported on March 6, 2013.
A friend of Sefularo’s told her family that “the leader and the girl who did the stabbing sucked Keamo’s blood from [a wound] on her neck,” the victim’s brother Zali Nxabi told News24.
“Satanism is widespread across South African schools,” former national head of the occult-related crimes unit in the SAPS, Kobus Jonker, said. “Principals call me a lot to say that there are these problems at their schools. One of the main things is that these children are looking for acceptance because families have broken down”, reported Sowetan.
According to enewschannel, clinical psychologist Dr Ian Opperman says that Satanism provides an opportunity for children who want to rebel if they cannot find a sense of belonging amongst peers.
But academics and religious leaders yesterday told The Citizen that people should not jump to conclusions about certain religious practices causing violent behaviour:
- “People give Satan too much credit,” said Doctor Gerda de Villiers, Old Testament lecturer at Pretoria University’s Department of Theology.
- Professor Hansie Wolmarans, lecturer in Greek and Latin Studies at the University of Johannesburg, said that violence and superstition, rather than Satanism, is what needs to be addressed.
- “To solve the problem of violence these superstitions need to be addressed.” Rev Martin Breytenbach, Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist Church in Limpopo, said that “although religious practices, such as Satanism, can play a role in violent behaviour, it is important to look at the bigger picture”.
- Rev Peter John Lee, Bishop of Christ the King Church in Johannesburg, said that occult practices and Satanism are not necessarily the cause of dysfunctional behaviour. There can be a number of other reasons such as an emotionally unstable home environment.
“Each case should be looked into and diagnosed on its own.” Lee said that “although it is each person’s constitutional right to live out their religion and beliefs, it is important to do so responsibly. As long as it’s not damaging to others and doesn’t interfere with the school curriculum, any religion can be practiced.”
“Since belonging to any religion, even Satanism, is not a crime in South Africa, how can religious bodies get away with accusing people of Satanism as if it were a criminal act to exercise one’s Constitutional rights?” was a question asked by Octarine Valure from the SA Vampyre Alliance. He said most people make assumptions and accusations, without asking questions to clarify what it is he believes in.