Original Research

Perceptions of traditional health practitioners on violence in the Helderberg Municipal Area, Western Cape

Diana Gibson
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 18, No 1 | a673 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v18i1.673 | © 2013 Diana Gibson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 May 2012 | Published: 19 September 2013

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Diana Gibson, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of the Western Cape, South Africa


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Abstract

This study on perceptions of violence was conducted with 56 traditional health practitioners (diviners: amagrirha) in the Helderberg Municipal Area of Cape Town Metro. It forms a subsection of a larger study on African medicine. This particular research focuses on how traditional health practitioners perceive violence, including gender-related violence. Individual, in-depth interviews were done with 21 traditional health practitioners and focus group discussions were held with 35 participants. The paper reports on their understanding of, as well as the meanings attached to, community and gender-based violence in an urban setting. The traditional health practitioners related violence to a range of disconnections in society, ranging from not adhering to traditional norms and practices, to breaks in relations between parents and children, within families and in marital- and sexual relations. They referred to a general sense of disjuncture between the living and the ancestral worlds. The accumulative effect of this sense of not being connected was seen as damaging and a precursor to violence. In two sites where there were high concentrations of violence, ceremonies were held to purify the areas by ritual. In addition to attending to the physical manifestations of illness, distress and violence, these traditional health practitioners attempted to enhance and restore proper social relationships between the living, as well as between the living and the dead.

Hierdie studie oor persepsies van geweld is gedoen met 56 tradisionele gesondheidspraktisyns (waarsêers: amagrirha) in die Helderberg Munisipale gebied van Kaapstad Metro. Dit vorm deel van ’n groter studie gerig op Afrika-medisyne. Hierdie spesifieke navorsing fokus op hoe tradisionele gesondheidspraktisyns geweld beskou, insluitende geslags-gebaseerde geweld. individuele, in-diepte onderhoude is gevoer met 21 tradisionele gesondheidspraktisyns en fokusgroepbesprekings is gehou met 35 deelnemers. Die artikel doen verslag oor hoe tradisionele gesondheidspraktisyns gemeenskaps- en geslags-gebaseerde geweld verstaan en daaran betekenis heg in ’n stedelike opset. Die tradisionele gesondheidspraktisyns verbind geweld met ’n reeks diskonneksies in die gemeenskap, wat wissel van ’n gebrek aan gehoor ten opsigte van tradisionale norme en praktyke tot verbrokkeling van verhoudings tussen ouers en kinders, binne families en in huweliks- en geslagsverhoudings. Hulle het verwys na ’n algemene persepsie van ontwrigting tussen die lewendes en die wêreld van die voorouers. Die akkumulatiewe effek van hierdie gevoel van verbrokkeling word gesien as afbrekend en ’n voorspel tot geweld. In twee plekke waar daar hoë konsentrasies van geweld was, is seremonies gehou om die areas ritueel te reining. Bykomend tot die aandag aan fisiese manifestasies van siekte, nood en geweld, het hierdie tradisionale gesondheidspraktisyns gepoog om behoorlike sosiale verhoudings tussen die lewendes te verbeter en te herstel, sowel as tussen die lewendes en die gestorwenes.


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