Work­shop tar­gets muti traders, heal­ers

Bio­di­ver­sity com­pli­ance aware­ness dis­cussed

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ILANIT CHERNICK

TEEM­ING with chat­ter and dressed in colour­ful garb, tra­di­tional heal­ers and muti traders from across Gaut­eng gath­ered to­gether at the Turf­fontein race course yes­ter­day to dis­cuss and pro­mote na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion.

Hosted by the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs (DEA), the Gaut­eng Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral Devel­op­ment (GDARD) and the Agri­cul­tural Re­search Coun­cil (ARC), the bio­di­ver­sity com­pli­ance aware­ness work­shop gave at­ten­dees an op­por­tu­nity to raise ques­tions and con­cerns.

Some of the queries dis­cussed in­cluded raids con­ducted by the Joburg Metro Po­lice Depart­ment and po­lice on muti traders and tra­di­tional heal­ers, is­sues with per­mits to sell, col­lect or buy muti and the reg­u­la­tions re­lat­ing to Threat­ened or Pro­tected Species (Tops) be­ing il­le­gally sold at “muti mar­kets” around the coun­try.

The DEA’s Thomas Mbedzi, who works on Tops im­ple­men­ta­tion, said it was im­por­tant to give a frame­work of na­tional reg­u­la­tion when it comes to deal­ing with laws and sus­tain­able man­age­ment of re­sources.

“We’re not say­ing that we mustn’t use our re­sources, but we need to use them in a way that en­sures we can grow them fur­ther, and that they will re­gen­er­ate by them­selves.

“We need to al­ways ques­tion, ‘what about our chil­dren and the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions’ when we use our re­sources,” he said.

He also clar­i­fied that muti traders and tra­di­tional heal­ers must have per­mits when us­ing any spec­i­men, alive or dead, that is ei­ther pro­tected or threat­ened.

“This in­cludes buy­ing, sell­ing, do­nat­ing or, if any part of it is in a bot­tle of medicine you are trans­port­ing, you must have a per­mit.”

Some of the species given as ex­am­ples in­cluded the wat­tled crane, blue swal­low, river­ine rab­bit, the al­bany cy­cad, grass aloe, chee­tahs, leop­ards, African rock python, ele­phants and black rhino.

“These are just some of the species, not ev­ery­thing has been listed,” he em­pha­sised.

When asked why a per­mit was needed by a tra­di­tional healer, Mbedzi ex­plained that they needed to mon­i­tor any­thing that could have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment and ecosys­tems.

“How­ever, there are ex­emp­tions com­ing by the end of the year for Tops species that are no longer alive. But ele­phants and rhi­nos will not be ex­empt, you will still need a per­mit to ac­quire them.

“There has to be proof of le­gal ac­qui­si­tion when it comes to Tops species, we can­not al­low any il­le­gal ac­qui­si­tion of such species,” Mbedzi stressed.

He said that a per­mit could only be is­sued with a let­ter of con­sent by the chief or landowner where the muti spec­i­mens were col­lected, and that if they were found to be ly­ing, they would face the full might of the law.

“Of­fences can be pun­ish­able by up to R5 mil­lion fines or five years in jail.

“If this same of­fence is car­ried out again, this can dou­ble,” he warned.

A muti trader who asked to re­main anony­mous said he was grate­ful for be­ing able to take part in the work­shop.

“It helps me to un­der­stand what is right and what is wrong. For me, up un­til now it wasn’t al­ways clear.

“Some­times we have had to get things un­der­hand­edly be­cause of all the pa­per­work in get­ting a per­mit, but now that it’s ex­plained and they have heard our griev­ances, hope­fully it will make the process easier,” he said.

Son­ny­boy Bapela, the DEA chief di­rec­tor of com­pli­ance, said events like this were im­por­tant be­cause they pro­moted com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“The most im­por­tant thing is to get the in­for­ma­tion across and to lis­ten to their chal­lenges so that we can try and help them with the nec­es­sary per­mits.”

Chief di­rec­tor of com­pli­ance and en­force­ment for GDARD, Abim­bola Olowa, echoed his sen­ti­ments, adding it was im­por­tant to un­der­stand they had tried to do things legally but this of­ten led to frus­tra­tion.

When asked if they would speak with the po­lice about the raids and seizure op­er­a­tions, Olowa said: “There will be di­a­logue, but we have to ap­proach it know­ing all the is­sues.

“There are lim­i­ta­tions and we have to find a bal­ance,” she said. @Lanc_02

IN­FORMED: Tra­di­tional healer Zanele Ngob­ese of the Fara­day muti mar­ket at­tends a bio­di­ver­sity aware­ness pro­gramme for muti traders and tra­di­tional heal­ers at Turf­fontien race course yes­ter­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.