Research Seeks to Answer if Medical Certificates Issued by Traditional Health Practitioners are Valid in the Workplace

Ms Lulu Dlamini celebrating with her sister, Mrs Lwazi Mdadane (left), and mother, Ms Thokozile Dlamini.

Master of Laws (LLM) in Labour Law graduate, Ms Lulu Dlamini’s research explores the topical issue of the validity of medical certificates issued by traditional health practitioners in the workplace. 

‘This is a controversial topic with not much official information from the institutions facilitating the provisions within the empowering legislation, or articles written on it. There is even less case law discussing the practicality of these medical certificates in the workplace. From the sources I had at my disposal, none seemed to test the legislation against the workplace or challenge how regulation impacted religious and cultural rights. These were some of the challenges I faced whilst researching the topic,’ said Dlamini. 

Supervised by Dr Rowena Bernard, the study asks and answers questions that resonate with traditional healers. 

‘It looks at those who believe in and use the services of traditional healers, and employers who understand the practice but are now asked to accept medical certificates based on legislation alone. It is agreed that this is a notable step for traditional healing, but it cannot be taken at face value if it doesn’t speak to its true nature,’ explained Dlamini. 

She added that based on her findings, she did not believe that traditional healing was suited to regulation. Not because it was not real or not on par with other health professions, but because it was unique and guided by belief and spirituality which cannot be achieved through regulation. 

‘What is needed from employers is and has always been reasonable accommodation of the different beliefs that their employees have and for employees to recognise the impact their absence has on business operations and act responsibly in light of this.’ 

This qualification is already enhancing Dlamini’s career as she was appointed as Human Resources Manager during the first year of her LLM studies and after one year in the field. 

‘I now work as a Chief of Staff for an industry-leading manufacturing company. While I can’t only attribute it to the qualification, I can say that when meeting people who believe in you and want to help you move forward in your career, it never hurts to have a master’s degree listed in your resume. Having raised my siblings alone, my mother couldn’t be prouder! This qualification has made all her sacrifices worthwhile. Now, all she talks about is a PhD, which I’m definitely not ready to pursue it at this stage.’ 

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrara

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