The Traditional Healers Organisation (THO) has accused the SABC of unfair portrayal of African culture and religion.
The main issue is about storylines in Generations: The Legacy and Muvhango.
THO complained that the two popular soapies depicted African spirituality, traditional healing and ubungoma in a derogatory way.
According to national co-ordinator of THO, Phephsile Maseko, the episode in question on SABC1’s Generationssuggests that traditional healers use snakes (omamlambo) to alleviate pain or heal patients.
The episode involves Tshidi, portrayed by Letoya Makhene, who incidentally is a traditional healer in real life. In the show Tshidi is seen using a snake she calls mamlambo as a magic wand that turns the impossible into the possible.
On SABC2’s Muvhango, Maseko said the soapie perpetuated a notion that living people can communicate with the dead in the form of zombies.
Viewers have been treated to a storyline where Chief Azhwindini’s son is almost turned into a zombie.
Raising her concerns, Maseko said: “In both scenarios, bangoma regalia is used. This is distasteful and disrespectful to African practice and an outright human rights injustice.”
Maseko further explained that they were disappointed that SABC leadership and management showed a lack of religious tolerance by allowing its service providers to degrade African religion and culture instead of doing proper research.
Her claims were seconded by the KwaZulu-Natal Traditional Healers Council spokesperman Thulebona Mnyadi who complained that the usage of mamlambo, the zombies in Muvhango and Mzansi Magic’s Isibaya were wrong.
He said the storylines were misleading because many people could not differentiate between witchcraft and healing the African way. Mnyadi explained that mamlambo was invisible like zombies and was used incorrectly.
THO laid a complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) but it was not considered. BCCSA spokesperwoman Shouneez Martin confirmed this but said the complaint was generic. She said they only accepted specific complaints.
Approached for comment, Muvhango publicist Amanda Ngudle said: “We acknowledge the concerns expressed by the organisation, but there are procedures to follow in expressing such complaints. The one body the public is always advised to approach first is the BCCSA.”
Generations executive producer Mfundi Vundla refused to comment.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said THO was being “unfair” because they did not give the public broadcaster an opportunity to respond.
“I need to forward the email to the soapies and get their responses before giving an official comment,” Kganyago said.