n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Attitudes and beliefs of police officers towards witchcraft (boloi) and their intervention role in the Northern Province, South Africa

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From January to June 1996 765 witchcraft-related crimes were reported to the police in the Northern Province (5.2 million population) and referred to charges of "pointing-out a person as a witch" with regard to arson, murder, attempted murder and public violence. Only a few arrests were made. Witchcraft is a priority crime in the Northern Province (SAPS 1997). Various reports indicate the increase of problems associated with witchcraft accusations, witch killings and muti (herbal medicine) killings in the region (Baholo 1994; Dolamo 1996; Evans 1991; Mogashoa 1987; Ralushai, Masingi, Madiba, Van den Heever, Mathiba & Mphaphuli 1996; Stadler 1996). Conflict exists between traditional and formal courts on witchcraft. The former acknowledges the existence of witchcraft and such people were tried and sentenced. After the introduction of the Witchcraft Suppression Act 3 of 1957 as amended by Act 50 of 1970, the powers of traditional courts were limited. However, witchcraft complaints are not acknowledged in the formal courts. Many people argue that this is the reason why people opt to take the law into their own hands by burning or evicting the alleged witches.


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