Warning over chicken ritual in Newlands Forest

A church congregation caused quite a stir at Newlands Forest after they had intended on slaughtering 62 live chickens for a religious ceremony. file image

A church congregation caused quite a stir at Newlands Forest after they had intended on slaughtering 62 live chickens for a religious ceremony. file image

Published Feb 24, 2024


Cape Town - A church congregation who had intended to slaughter 62 live chickens during a religious ceremony at Newlands Forest have retained their livestock and were given a stern warning. But not without an outcry from resident and concern about “witchcraft”.

But now an investigation is now under way and the name of the church has yet to be revealed.

Residents have also taken to social media claiming the forest has become common grounds for rituals and ceremonies.

Alert hikers and visitors had contacted the South African National Parks rangers, including the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, on February 10.

SANParks discovered that the 100-strong church congregation was not in possession of a permit.

Witnesses who contacted SANParks took to social media via the Facebook page Newlands Forest Conservation Group to raise their concerns.

Resident Lisette Lombard said she was concerned that too many ceremonies were taking place without any supervision or authority. “Sacrificial witchcraft, if live chickens were involved and most probably slaughtered.

“There are more and more religious ceremonies taking place in Newlands Forest, Table Mountain and Rhodes Memorial.

“I have tried to report this often, but SANParks and Table Mountain National Park do not work on a Sunday and are absent when one tries to report these incidents.

“It is concerning and a disturbance and defeats the purpose of a tranquil peaceful nature reserve.”

Lauren Clayton of SANParks told Weekend Argus that rangers took control of the situation and subsequently educated the congregation.

“The group was escorted out of Newlands Forest since events or gatherings of this nature are not permitted within the park without a permit/consultation with the management authority,” Lombard said.

“Rangers accounted for 62 chickens and the group exited the park with their livestock.”

One of the chickens was saved by a hiker. pic Facebook

Belinda Abraham of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA said their investigation was not yet complete.

She said the local chapter of the SPCA remained liberal in respecting the religious beliefs of others and educated the congregation about the human form of slaughtering.

“Inspector Ayanda Ngcope responded to a complaint about a group of people who were allegedly carrying chickens up the mountain by the legs and in plastic bags,” she said.

“Park Rangers were already on scene and were directing the party out of the park.

“Approximately 100 people were gathered, and we estimate that they were in possession of around 50 chickens, some carried in bags, some being carried by their wings.

“It is our understanding the chickens were intended for religious sacrifice and that the party was a church group.

“The inappropriate handling of the animals was addressed and our Inspector educated the group on humane handling and the need for humane slaughter.”

Abraham said the leader of the church group was issued with a warning to ensure that all animals within her control were not ill-treated in future and to follow the correct protocols to avoid contraventions of the law.

“The SPCA’s investigation into some aspects of the day’s events is still ongoing.

“We appeal to anyone with any information to come forward by calling 0217004158/9 or emailing [email protected] ,” she said.

“Our Constitution affords every South African freedom of religion and it is with respect to the constitution that the SPCA oversees the practice of religious slaughter that forms part of many belief systems.

“Nobody enjoys animal slaughter, but we do respect the beliefs of others and would rather attend religious slaughter events to ensure that they are carried out humanely than turn a blind eye to animal suffering.”

Another witness, Graham Howe, also took to social media to describe how horrified he was to see the chicken being carried to their slaughter: “As we arrived for a weekly walk in the forest, a long procession of women were walking down through the security boom, each one carrying a trussed chicken upside down by the legs or held under their arms, in blankets and in boxes. Some chickens were alive and some looked dead.

“This was very distressing.

“An inspector from Cape of Good Hope SPCA was on the scene.

“They intended to slaughter and dismember the chickens at the river, light a fire and eat them in some sort of ritual sacrifice. This is all hearsay.

“On our walk we found many feathers, home made chicken trusses (twisted chip packets) and litter alongside the river which we collected.”

One resident managed to save one of the chickens.

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