There were isolated reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.
There were no reports of serious attacks on Jewish persons or property, and the Jewish Council of Deputies nongovernmental organization (NGO) reported a 40 percent drop in the number of anti-Semitic attacks as compared to the previous year. There were, however, reports of verbal abuse, hate mail, and distribution of anti-Semitic literature in parts of the country.
There were reports that persons accused of witchcraft were attacked, driven from their villages, and in some cases murdered, particularly in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, and Eastern Cape provinces. Incidents of suspected witchcraft sometimes resulted in assault, forced exile, and killings, particularly of elderly women. Traditional leaders generally cooperated with government educational programs and reported threats against persons suspected of witchcraft.
On March 21, a group stoned two women to death. Cynthia Lemaho (26) and Mupala Motopela (81) were stoned after they were accused of practicing witchcraft in Limpopo. The group dragged the two women from their home, stoned them, and dragged their bodies back into the house, which was then burned. The police responded swiftly and arrested 32 suspects, who appeared in the Naphuno Magistrate’s Court on March 25. Two suspects were charged with murder and arson.
There are many ecumenical and interdenominational organizations among the various churches. The largest is the South African Council of Churches (SACC), which represents the Methodist Church, the Church of the Province of South Africa (Anglican), the Roman Catholic Church, various Lutheran and Presbyterian churches, and the Congregational Church, among others. The major indigenous religious groups, most of the Afrikaans-language churches, and the Pentecostal and charismatic churches are not members of the SACC, and most have their own coordinating and liaison bodies.
The NGO National Religious Leaders’ Forum represents the country’s seven main religious communities (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, African traditionalist, Buddhist, and Baha’i). The forum, in cooperation with the government, aims to leverage its grassroots networks to undertake social welfare initiatives such as poverty alleviation and combating HIV/AIDS. The National Interfaith Leaders Council, inclusive of all religions, was established in 2009 to partner with the government to tackle issues such as early childhood development and municipal service delivery problems with electricity, roads, and water. The National Religious Association for Social Development, established in 1997, also aims to strengthen the capacity and programming of religious organizations and networks working on community development projects.