For many years, scores of people have been descending upon a remote spring in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, to seek treatment for various ailments. Locals and visitors, whether poor or rich, illiterate or educate, flock to Isinuka, a sulphur spring with mud baths located in a densely forested region a few kilometers from Port St Johns.
They believe that the site has magical healing powers. The name Isinuka means “place with a smell” mostly due to the smell of the sulphur in the water. People drink the spring water to treat several illnesses, including to cure skin ailments and repair muscle sprains, according to Daily Dispatch. Some are also all for the mud baths for spiritual healing. People essentially smear their bodies with the mud.
Many even go to the site with plastic containers to leave with some spring water to continue treatment at home. “People believe Isinuka heals backache, headaches, stomach as well as skin ailments and a host of other conditions. There is no scientific proof of this, it’s just a general belief. Scores of people claim to have been helped by Isinuka,” Port St Johns’ mayor Mnyamezeli Mangqo told the Daily Dispatch in 2013.
To get to the “miracle spring”, one must climb a large rock face using a fig tree as a staircase. At Isinuka, visitors can find not only clear drinking water but also a bathing pond and cleansing mud, gas fumes which come from underground, and a well, among others.
The well has been known for emitting a pungent gas that has resulted in the area being called eviksini or “vicks”, Daily Dispatch found. Those who go to Isinuka believe that by inhaling the gas their backaches, pains, headaches, and so on can be cured. Port St Johns residents and those beyond continue to swear by Isinuka.
“You won’t find anything quite like it anywhere in the world, and it is all free. Black and white, rich and poor, find solace here. It is the direct healing hand of God Himself,” Sazi Ntshunte, who often visited the site, told Daily Dispatch.
To the Mpondo people of the Eastern Cape, Isinuka is a sacred area and the pride of the nation. In May last year, DispatchLIVE reported that there was no mask or social distancing as visitors flocked to the “holy place” of Isinuka amid Covid-19.