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By Pertunia Ratsatsi | Sep 17, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Several kids as young as 16 in Thembisa abandon school to go and train as traditional healers without their parents' consent.

Several kids as young as 16 in Thembisa abandon school to go and train as traditional healers without their parents' consent.

Two of the children were rescued by their parents from a sangoma in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni.

Gugu Mkhonazi, 17, and Bongani Nkosi, 16, disappeared from their homes two weeks ago after attending their best friend Belinda's graduation ceremony as a sangoma .

Unbeknown to their parents, Gugu and Bongani had decided to become sangomas like Belinda. They left Thembisa on a Sunday and went to a Katlehong traditional healer's school from which their friend had graduated.

Gugu's uncle, well-known pastor Z'bonele Mkhonazi, said the family was shocked when they learnt that his niece was at a traditional healer's school.

"I went to look for her at Bongani's house but was told that he was also missing. We prayed the whole night for their return."

Mkhonazi and Bongani's mother, Hlengiwe Nkosi, reported the matter to the police but they could not help since the children were not forced to go to the school.

"The police could only accompany us to the school to monitor the situation because we were angry," Mkhonazi said. "I could not recognise my own niece when I saw her. They had dyed her hair and changed her hairstyle. Her face was smeared with red powder and she was wearing beads and traditional attire.

"The healer told us that the ancestors had brought the children to her and demanded R3000 for each child because they had gone through the initial stages, but we refused."

The police negotiated with the sangoma to release the teenagers.

Mkhonazi said peer pressure drew his niece to the school.

"Belinda is their friend and they admired her for being a sangoma. I am happy that she is now back at school and healthy."

Bongani said he regreted going to the school.

"I was not thinking straight. Belinda looked so cool during the party she was different and everyone respected her. I regret going there. I am going to focus on my studies from now on."

When Sowetan visited Belinda's home her mother, who did not want to be named, said her daughter had also gone to the school without her permission.

"She left home in September last year and only returned last month. I was forced to have a welcome ceremony for her. The healer demanded R7000 to release her," she said.

Police spokesperson Captain Manyadza Ralidzhivha said: "We could not open a case against the sangoma because the children went to her willingly."


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