Witchcraft Suppression Act, 1957

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Witchcraft Suppression Act, 1957
enacted by the Parliament of South Africa
as amended
The Witchcraft Suppression Act, 1957 (Act No. 3 of 1957) is an act of the Parliament of South Africa that prohibits various activities related to witchcraft and "witch smelling". It was enacted by the apartheid regime, and is based on a similar colonial-era statute of the Cape Colony. It has been argued that some provisions of the act are no longer constitutional in that they violate the Bill of Rights, which protects the freedom of religion and the freedom to participate in cultural life. As a consequence the act is currently under review by the South African Law Reform Commission.

The act came into force on 22 February 1957. It was amended in 1970 by the Witchcraft Suppression Amendment Act, 1970, which added one new offence (purporting to use supernatural powers to accuse another person of causing death, injury or damage) and converted fines denominated in pounds to rands. The operation of the act was made uniform across the former homelands in 1997 by the Justice Laws Rationalisation Act, 1996. It was amended again in 1997 by the Abolition of Corporal Punishment Act, 1997, which abolished the use of whipping to punish certain offences.

This version incorporates all amendments up to and including those introduced on 5 September 1997 by the Abolition of Corporal Punishment Act, 1997; this is the version of the act currently in force. A series of other versions are also available on Wikisource, including the version originally enacted without amendments.

Act

To provide for the suppression of the practice of witchcraft and similar practices.



(English text signed by the Governor-General.)
(Assented to 19th February, 1957.)


as amended by

Witchcraft Suppression Amendment Act, No. 50 of 1970
Abolition of Corporal Punishment Act, No. 33 of 1997


Be it enacted by the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty, the Senate and the House of Assembly of the Union of South Africa, as follows:—


Offences relating to the practice of witchcraft and similar practices.

1. Any person who—

(a) imputes to any other person the causing, by supernatural means, of any disease in or injury or damage to any person or thing, or who names or indicates any other person as a wizard;

(b) in circumstances indicating that he professes or pretends to use any supernatural power, witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration, imputes the cause of death of, injury or grief to, disease in, damage to or disappearance of any person or thing to any other person;

(c) employs or solicits any witchdoctor, witch-finder or any other person to name or indicate any person as a wizard;

(d) professes a knowledge of witchcraft, or the use of charms, and advises any person how to bewitch, injure or damage any person or thing, or supplies any person with any pretended means of witchcraft;

(e) on the advice of any witchdoctor, witch-finder or other person or on the ground of any pretended knowledge of witchcraft, uses or causes to be put into operation any means or process which, in accordance with such advice or his own belief, is calculated to injure or damage any person or thing;

(f) for gain pretends to exercise or use any supernatural power, witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration, or undertakes to tell fortunes, or pretends from his skill in or knowledge of any occult science to discover where and in what manner anything supposed to have been stolen or lost may be found,

shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction—

(i) in the case of an offence referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) in consequence of which the person in respect of whom such offence was committed, has been killed, or where the accused has been proved to be by habit or repute a witchdoctor or witch-finder, to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty years;

[Para. (i) substituted by s. 2 of Act No. 33 of 1997.]

(ii) in the case of any other offence referred to in the said paragraphs, to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years;

[Para. (ii) substituted by s. 2 of Act No. 33 of 1997.]

(iii) in the case of an offence referred to in paragraph (c), (d) or (e), to a fine not exceeding five hundred rand or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or to both such fine and such imprisonment;

(iv) in the case of an offence referred to in paragraph (f), to a fine not exceeding two hundred rand or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.

[S. 1 substituted by s. 1 of Act No. 50 of 1970.]


Presumption.

2. Where any person in respect of whom an offence referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) of section 1 was committed, is killed, it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, that such person was killed in consequence of the commission of such offence.

[S. 2 substituted by s. 2 of Act No. 50 of 1970.]


Repeal of laws.

3. The laws mentioned in the Schedule to this Act are hereby repealed to the extent set out in the fourth column of that Schedule.


Short title.

4. This Act shall be called the Witchcraft Suppression Act, 1957.




Schedule.

Laws Repealed.

Province or territory. No. and year of law. Title or subject of law. Extent of repeal.
Cape of Good Hope. Act No. 24 of 1886. The Native Territories’ Penal Code. Chapter XI.
Act No. 2 of 1895. The Witchcraft Suppression Act, 1895. The whole.
Natal. Law No. 19 of 1891. Natal Code of Native Law. Section one hundred and twenty-nine of the Schedule as substituted by Union Proclamation No. 168 of 1932.
Transvaal. Ordinance No. 26 of 1904. The Crimes Ordinance, 1904. Sections twenty-nine to thirty-four inclusive.
Zululand. Proclamation No. II of 1887. Laws and Regulations for the Government of Zululand. Regulations nine and ten.
This work is in the public domain because it was created and first published in South Africa and it is an official text of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, or an official translation of such a text.

According to the Copyright Act, 1978, § 12 (8) (a), "No copyright shall subsist in official texts of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, or in official translations of such texts."