Desperate to get married? Stressed by a looming court case?
Crippled and unable to see, 87-year-old sangoma Mosadiwaphutu Tshwaranang could be the unlikely solution to your love/legal woes.
With a consultation charge of just P300, plus a yearly P40 subscription, the blind elder believes she has the power to get you and your loved one down the aisle.
She has hundreds of customers who believe the same.
The Voice reporters tracked down the elder, popularly known as Mma Phuti, to the dusty settlement of Konye, roughly 45km from Molepolole.
We arrive at around 4pm but are told that Mma Phuti can no longer assist anyone because her spirit is ‘not in the right place’.
Despite this, five people wait patiently just in case the old lady’s spirit becomes more accommodating.
The yard is filled with neighbors and grandchildren. Mma Phuti is resting in one of the huts as we negotiate our way in.
Finally we are ushered into the dimly lit room to wait our turn.
However, as we introduce ourselves to her grandson, who also doubles as her protégé, those waiting to meet Mma Phuti inexplicably leave in a hurry. Indeed, they almost flee!
It is disconcerting but there is no time to reflect on their hasty departure.
Hunched with age, her shortly cropped grey hair standing out against her weather-beaten, coppery skin, Mma Phuti takes us back to her childhood.
“I was born in a family of nine siblings. I wasn’t always this way. One day, when I was still very young, I was walking back home and got lost. I don’t know what happened but suddenly I was possessed. I could see I was walking but I did not know where. I couldn’t even shout for help!” recalls the sightless sangoma, her gravely voice almost hypnotizing.
Mma Phuti says whilst walking to ‘a place unknown’ she heard singing in the distance.
“I could hear this group of people singing but I could not see them. I finally managed to call for help but they continued singing and still I could not see them.”
Explaining how she was initiated into the ‘world of powers’, the ancient lady says, “One of them approached me and asked me why I was afraid. The voice told me that I was their child and they had an assignment for me to do for them. They told me to go back home and that I will be given instructions.”
Immersed in her tale, the trance is broken when Mma Phuti abruptly interrupts her narrative.
“Why are you here? Do you want to arrest me? I am not doing anything wrong here, I just help people?” she demands, her calm demeanour suddenly anxious and alert.
After we eventually manage to reassure her, she continues with her story.
“All sorts of people from all walks of life visit me here, right here in my home. This is not me who makes all these things possible, it is my ancestors. They guide me in what needs to be done!”
She says most of her ‘visitors’ are women, especially from the city, who flock to her in desperation for marriage.
Later, The Voice spoke to one of Mma Phuti’s customers, a 43-year-old man who wished not to be named.
He explained that he had a court case in Lobatse and sought the wizened woman’s help.
“I went to ask for assistance when things went south between me and my wife, who was cheating on me with another man. When I visited Mma Phuti, I told her my problems. Then she prayed and told me to go without giving me anything. She only said the case would favour me. I only paid P50.
I won the court case but later decided to part ways with my wife because it was no longer worth it!”
Due to her lack of mobility, Mma Phuti relies on the assistance of her grandson Kgosana Gabolekane.
He tells The Voice that although he does not have his grandmother’s gift, he has seen her help people who later return bearing gifts as a token of appreciation.
“Most of the things we do together and she guides me. After a customer has explained the kind of assistance he/she needs, she prays, talking to her gods. Later she will explain if the customer needs two or one of the small containers of charm we refer to as toisi.”
Story BY Sharon Mathala & Gofaone Koogoditse