LEGISLATION CONCERNING TRADITIONAL PRACTITIONERS
A number of issues regarding Traditional practitioners in South Africa needs to be addressed in order to understand better understand the Legislation governing it.
A bill drafted to regulate the practice of traditional practitioners was tabled before Parliament in 1994 and passed in November 2004.
The bill was signed as the traditional health practitioners act 35 of 2004 in February 2005. (see Government Gazette 27275,Dated 11 February 2005.)
On 18 August 2006 the Constitutional Court declared the Traditional Health Practitioners Act (act no. 35 of 2004) invalid, but the invalidity was suspended for a period of 18 months.
This means that act No.35 of 2004 is valid and will be valid until 16 February 2008. This give the Traditional Health Practitioners time to get their house in order.
The invalidity was ordered not because of the content of the bill but rather because of the consultative process.
Due to the consultative process not been followed according to the requirements, the Health Portfolio Committee arranged public hearings and the hearing in Gauteng was held on 14 August 2007. During this hearing it came out the 60% of all South Africans are using some kind of traditional medication.
Bill 20 of 2007 is already in place and will now govern and regulate Traditional Health Practitioners in South Africa.
Bill 20 of 2007 makes provision for the health practitioner’s council and the following groups will be covered:
- Inyangas (herbalist or traditional doctors)
- Sangomas (diviners)
- Lingcibis (traditional surgeons)
- Traditional birth attendants
Abathandazis (faith healers) are excluded.
It is important to note that while the process of Governing and regulating Traditional Health Practitioners in South Africa is taking time that the individual are still protected in the Constitution (Bill of Rights) Every individual has the following rights:
o Right to live
o Right to religion, belief and opinion
o Freedom of association
o To language and culture
The invalidity suspension ended on 16 February 2008, but the new act (Act 22 of 2007 : Traditional Health Practitioners Act, 2007) was signed by the President on 7 January 2008 (see the Government Gazette no. 30660 of 10 January 2008).
Also see Government notice in the Government Gazette No. 31071 of 16 may 2008.