South Africa’s diverse cultural heritage has again come under the spotlight in the case of Kievits Kroon Country Estate (Pty) Ltd v Mmoledi and Others (2013) where the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) had to decide whether the certificate of a traditional healer could be equated with a medical certificate for the purposes of sick leave. The dispute was originally referred to the CCMA, which found that it was justified for Mrs. Mmoledi to stay away from work to attend a traditional healer’s course, despite her employer’s instructions not to do so, as she was deeply afraid of suffering serious misfortune if she failed to respond to the call of her ancestors. This was equated to a sickness. The SCA agreed with these findings and dismissed the employer’s appeal. World Health Organisation statistics show that up to 80% of South Africans turn to traditional healers for their physical, spiritual and emotional well-being.
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