Ministering to AIDS Victims in the Midst of Withcraft in South Africa
This report was submitted by WRF Board member Flip Buys who serves as the President of Mukanyo Theological College and as the Chairman of the Board of the Masibambisane Community Development Corporation in South Africa.
At Mukhanyo Theological College and Mukhanyo Community Development Centre in KwaMhlanga, South Africa, we are very deeply involved in the fight against HIV /AIDS. We now care for 1000 orphans in day care centres with 2 meals a day (last year we served 200 000 meals) caring for terminally ill patients (last year had 300 going through our hospice) and doing home based care for 500+ per year.
We have now discovered that AIDS is leading to a new explosion of pagan witchcraft. People believe that patients have been bewitched through “isidliso” which they believe is a witchcraft spell that someone to whom you have caused grief, casts on you through a wizard or witchdoctor.
It is believed that the symptoms of the disease are diarrhoea, vomiting, a total loss of appetite and spitting blood (all typical AIDS symptoms). It is then believed that the only option for healing is to find a more powerful witchdoctor or wizard to counter the magic spells that has been put on you. But then you have to be absolutely silent about the issue and don’t tell anybody about it, otherwise the counter actions of your witchdoctor won’t work. This leads to a strengthening of stigmatization, which is the # 1 stumbling block in the fight against AIDS.
We would like to dialogue about strategies on how Christians should deal with witchcraft and HIV/AIDS stigmatization.