SA spy service 'hiring healers'

Pretoria, South Africa - South Africa's main opposition has accused the state intelligence services of hiring traditional healers to carry out a spiritual cleansing ceremony.

The Democratic Alliance allege the ceremony at an office in the capital, Pretoria, will cost more than $70,000.

"While we acknowledge the importance of spirituality in people's lives, these costs seem totally disproportionate," the DA's John Moodey said.

There has been no comment so far from the intelligence services.

According to the DA, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has asked 25 traditional healers - known as sangomas - to perform the ceremony.

Each of the sangomas is to be paid 30,000 rand ($3,000, £2,000), the party said.

"One wonders why such heavyweight cleansing ceremonies are necessary and whether this means immoral or illegal acts are being carried out there," Mr Moodey is quoted by South Africa's Times newspaper as saying.

South Africa has more than 200,000 traditional healers and more than half the population is believed to consult them.