Govt can’t specify how many sangomas are practising in SA

It’s believed there are more than 200,000 practicing healers countrywide.

FILE: Once registered, sangomas will have the legal authority to write sick notes for patients. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Government is not able to specify how many traditional healers are practicing countrywide.

That's despite a council being set up in February 2013 to regulate the practice.

The interim Traditional Health Practitioners Council is tasked with weeding out bogus doctors by ensuring both quality health services and ethical conduct.

To date no practitioners have been registered.

The Health Department explains it doesn't have up-to-date stats because the interim council has not yet populated its registers.

Council chairperson Conrad Tsiane believes there are more than 200,000 practicing healers countrywide.

He says registration will commence once two key positions are filled.

"We are just about to appoint people, including a registrar, so that those people can have our office running."

Once registered, sangomas will have the legal authority to write sick notes for patients.

Meanwhile, the Health Department has confirmed not a single traditional healer has been registered with an interim body.

Tsiane admits registration is long overdue.

"It's long overdue I agree. But we had to sit down and work on our laws, registration forms, and organogram offices and that is what we have been doing all along."

However, he says a lot of other work has been done over the last two years.

But attorney specialising in labour law Michael Bagraim says the holdup creates uncertainty.

"My clients are coming back to me and saying the staff is enquiring whether they can see a sangoma rather than a traditional doctor."

The council will serve to weed out bogus healers.