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  • Writer's pictureAnnieHartley

Day 15-16 (Saturday+Sunday) - Muti & Mattresses

Updated: May 13, 2021

It may be surprising to many that between 60-80% of South Africans use traditional healers, often preferentially over Westernized evidence-based medicine. This statistic is evident on the drive into Tintswalo Hospital, where several “witch doctors/shamans” (known locally as Sangomas) and herbalists line the streets offering various forms of cures, exorcisms, and spiritual communion.

While a few specialise in specific ailments, most are comfortable with a wide variety of “traditional diseases” such as impotence, genital discharge, leg swelling, skin problems marital/employment issues, epilepsy and psychosis.

The cures range from bespoke herbal remedies such as is offered by Dr Karimu at Acornhoek Plaza in front of the hospital .... ready-made cocktails for STIs and COVID (for oral consumption and/or as an additive to bath water) that are available in our local supermarket.

Just R79.95 in the shampoo aisle

Sangomas offer a more personalised service, where the additives needed for the remedy are communicated via spiritual communion with one’s ancestors in a process known as throwing the bones.

This is mama Jonah, a respected Sangoma a few minutes drive from the hospital who kindly showed me her bones

The vast majority of these practitioners are highly respected and do a commendable social service to the great benefit of their community, also helping refer patients to the hospital when the disease type or severity lies outside their spiritual scope.

Indeed, it is not surprising that patients delay coming to the hospital until the very last moment and require direct encouragement from their Sangoma to attend.

Many of our readers would just need to see the disgusting state of our mattresses to make the same decision to rather weather out their illness at home.

The mattresses stink so much of congealed blood and assorted excretions that they are aired out outside in the sun each day…no doubt luring patients inside for more...😒

We desperately need new mattresses with 100% waterproof covering.

Just USD150 per mattress (and we need 3 of them) 🙏


Building wise, things are moving ahead well. The flooring will take 7 days to prepare, so we have temporarily moved the ER to a make-shift location next door.

In a rather absurd coincidence, the week that we get the FIRST signs in the hospital that direct patients to the emergency room…the emergency room is temporarily moved do make way for us to replace the flooring 😂.

The irony is not lost on us...

(and as you can see, we also installed the security gate to help protect our staff from unstable psychotic patients or criminals coming to “finish off the job” of their rivals who have sought treatment).

This week will be busy...

--Laying the flooring and giving it an EXTREMELY durable polyurathane coating

--Curtain making

--Furniture ordering

--Designing and testing our new triage protocol (and printing/mounting the triage workflow posters)

--Fixing the plumbing

--Finishing up the painting


Until then...

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