Broomstick-Flying Witches to Be Brought Down in Swaziland

Times Live, May 13, 2013

Witches flying broomsticks in Swaziland above 150 metres will be subject to arrest and a hefty fine of R500 000, civil aviation authorities said, according to a report.

Witches’ broomsticks are considered similar to any heavier-than-air transportation device that is airborne, reports The Star.

“A witch on a broomstick should not fly above the [150-metre] limit,” Civil Aviation Authority marketing and corporate affairs director Sabelo Dlamini told the newspaper.

No penalties exist for witches flying below 150 metres.

The report said it was hard to say how serious he was, but witchcraft isn’t a joking matter in Swaziland, where the people believe in it.

The statute also forbids toy helicopters and children’s kites from ascending too high into the country’s airspace.

Dlamini was asked by the Swazi press to explain the country’s aviation laws following the arrest of a private detective, Hunter Shongwe, for operating a toy helicopter equipped with a video camera, of which he boasted using to gather surveillance information similar to the way a drone aircraft operates.

The detective was charged with operating an unregistered aircraft and for failing to appear before his chief to be questioned by traditional authorities about his toy drone, the first of its kind in Swaziland.

Swazi brooms are short bundles of sticks tied together and do not have handles. Swazi witches are known to use them to fling potions about homesteads – but not for transport.

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