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Advocacy for Review of Namibia’s Witchcraft Suppression Law to Gain Momentum in 2024

Advocacy for Review of Namibia’s Witchcraft Suppression Law to Gain Momentum in 2024

By Jerry Adesewo

In a compelling move for the new year, advocates in Namibia, led by Berrie Holtzhausen, are pushing for a comprehensive review of the Witchcraft Suppression Proclamation, focusing on its impact on religious practices.

The call for reconsideration comes in light of a distressing situation involving employees at Alzheimer’s Dementia Namibia (ADN), a care facility for individuals living with Dementia. Employees, driven by their commitment to religious beliefs, have found themselves seeking loans to cover the costs of baptisms and confirmations for their children.

In a Namibian village marked by high unemployment and limited job opportunities, families face economic challenges, particularly during the festive season. Many employees at ADN hail from this village, compounding their financial struggles.

The employees, dedicated to their religious convictions, are borrowing money, which will be deducted from their salaries, to facilitate the baptisms and confirmations. The costs associated with these ceremonies, collected by the local Lutheran Church, amount to N$500 per child for baptism and N$750 per child for confirmation. In this scenario, the pastor stands to collect N$25,000 from the baptisms alone.

Berrie shared the heart-wrenching reality faced by these families, emphasising the financial strain caused by exploiting superstitious beliefs. The aim of the proposed review is to broaden the scope of the Witchcraft Suppression Proclamation, encompassing all spiritual leaders, including pastors, dominees, priests, imams, rabbis, and others. This revision aims to address concerns about the exploitation of religious beliefs leading to poverty and tension between families of diverse backgrounds.

As the advocacy gains momentum in 2024, proponents hope for a more inclusive and nuanced legal framework that respects religious practices while preventing the adverse economic impacts on vulnerable communities.

Berrie Holtzhausen is a compassionate advocate and the Founder/CEO of Alzheimer Dementia Namibia (ADN) since 2010. Notably, he established a Dementia care farm, providing a safe haven for individuals with Dementia who face accusations of witchcraft. With 13 years dedicated to raising awareness and educating communities on brain health and diseases leading to Dementia, Berrie became an activist, challenging the disengagement of People Living with Dementia (PLWD) perceived as witches. Despite his own diagnosis with Dementia in November 2020, he remains a fervent advocate, drawing on his education from the MOOC at the Wicking Dementia Research Center, University of Tasmania. Berrie’s commitment extends to founding Dementia-friendly villages in rural Namibia since 2020, reflecting his global impact as an international speaker.

Advocacy for Review of Namibia’s Witchcraft Suppression Law to Gain Momentum in 2024

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