South Africans can perform ritual animal slaughters in urban areas as long as they respect basic hygiene and city ordinances, the national cultural rights commission said Tuesday.
Its ruling came after animal rights activists challenged the traditional ritual of slaughtering cattle to communicate with God and the ancestors for blessings, protection or healing.
Such rituals are common in rural areas but have migrated to cities as the urban population has grown, said Wesley Mabuza, head of the Commission on the Rights of Culture and Religion.
"Many of them (traditional leaders) feel that they should be able to perform the ritual in the yards of their city homes without encountering problems," he said.
"This has fueled debate on the subject as issues of the contravention of the municipal by laws, environmental health, animal abuse and cruelty are always raised."
After a series of public debates, the commission ruled that ritual slaughters are allowed in cities as long as municipal sanitation laws are followed and the suffering caused to the animal is minimized.
Last year a South African court granted an order that allowed the Zulu ritual killing of a bull by youths using only their hands.
The ritual is performed every year at a harvest festival at King Goodwill Zwelithini's residence in northern KwaZulu Natal province where a bull is attacked by young men who twist its tail and genitals and beat it to death.
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