Trainee sangoma ‘forced to dance on hot coals’

PE woman broke down and cried while testifying in the New Brighton Magistrate’s Court

Hot coals. File picture
Hot coals. File picture
Image: Flickr

A Port Elizabeth woman who was training to be a sangoma broke down and cried while testifying in the New Brighton Magistrate’s Court yesterday about how she had to dance on hot coals during her initiation ceremony.

Nomathamsanqa “Ma Dlamini” Menze, 45, and Lundi Mbange, 27, have been charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

They have both pleaded not guilty. Pumeza Lugawu, 40, spent three weeks at the Dora Nginza Hospital’s burns unit following the injuries she sustained during a ceremony on July 8.

She told the court that the ceremony took place at her house in KwaNdokwenza, Kwazakhele.

“I went outside with another sangoma to eat meat,” she said.

“My mentor [Menze] took hot coals from under the pot and ordered me to sing and dance on them.

“My feet were burning. When I tried to get off the coals she held me there.
“I overpowered her and she called another trainee [Mbange] to keep me on the coals.”

She said she was forced to dance on the coals at least three times.

“I cried and informed [Menze] that the coals were burning my feet. I pleaded with her but this was in vain,” Lugawu said.

Lugawu said she was under duress when she was forced to dance on the burning coals.

Afterwards, she was given painkillers and Menze allegedly told her to cover her feet in ash.

During her testimony, magistrate Kathy Moodley asked how Lugawu first stepped onto the coals.

Lugawu replied that she voluntarily did so.

“If you did not burn your feet and successfully completed the ritual you would not have cried foul. You would have been accepted as sangoma,” Moodley said.

The trial continues today.