It was supposed to be a relatively simple story – well, chasing supernatural spirits might not sound ‘simple’ but at The Voice it’s pretty routine stuff.
A mysterious creature is on the rampage in Tobane, tormenting a young boy, beating up villagers and breaking windows.
Our task was to find those people and interview them – and if we’re really lucky, catch the Thokolosi in action.
A pastor called to exorcise the evil being was reportedly sent running for dear life after receiving a hot clap from the feisty creature.
Even better. Find the pastor, interview him on camera and head back to base. Piece of cake!
We left Francistown around midday on Thursday – four hours after we had originally planned to depart (Dipflo slept in!).
Slightly drained from the previous night’s deadline, we were fuelled by the thought of the adventure that lay ahead and proceeded to Selebi Phikwe under the cover of dense clouds.
The plan was to check into Travellers Guest House before continuing the 20km to Tobane and interview as many people as possible before nightfall.
We had been told the spirit, which took the form of a short, hairy, faceless being, was at its most active after sunset.
We checked in at around 15:30 hours but had hardly put our bags down when the heavens opened and a persistent drizzle reigned over Phikwe until late evening.
The Tobane mission was aborted. Can’t chase a Thokolosi in the slippery mud!
We slept soundly in our shared accommodation, lulled to sleep with a comforting nightcap or two.
The next morning, with the sun shining and our spirits high, a skeptical Englishman and a slightly apprehensive Pilikwe native went ghost-busting.
Unfortunately our hunt got off to a frustrating start. Indeed, ‘frustrating’ would prove an apt description for the rest of the day
The village Chief had just left for Phikwe and the VDC Chairman refused to discuss the issue.
Villagers would giggle nervously at the mention of a Thokolsi but were hesitant to share details.
Eventually a helpful policewoman pointed out the haunted house.
As if following the script of a horror movie, the house was in a secluded area on the outskirts of the village.
It appeared deserted, although the neatly swept, well-kept yard suggested it hadn’t been abandoned for long.
Smashed windows in the two-bedroomed house got our pulses racing. This was definitely the right place.
In the adjacent yard, her curiosity piqued by the sight of a ‘lekewa’, a young lady cradling a baby asked us what we were doing.
It turned out she was the daughter to the owner of the haunted house and aunt to the tormented 11-year-old boy.
“My mother and nephew left for Mmadinare two days ago. I can’t allow you to take pictures of her house without her permission,” she rightfully declared, much to George’s embarrassment as he already had his camera out.
With her assistance, we managed to contact the old woman (Mmatala Modise) who insisted she would only do the interview at her own yard in Tobane.
“Don’t come to Mmadinare. I’m coming to Tobane tomorrow morning we can talk then,” instructed a stressed-sounding Modise, before abruptly hanging up the phone.
We had only packed for a single night in Phikwe!
Debating what to do, our next move was decided for us when a striking young lady approached and declared, “Are you the guys from The Voice? The Chief has just arrived and she’s waiting for you!”
News sure spreads fast in the village!
Our good fortune was quickly forgotten, however, as Dipflo’s normally trusty Nissan refused to start.
“It’s just the battery,” mumbled Kabelo with a dismissive confidence that was not matched by his bemused expression.
Two hours later and despite several attempts, we still hadn’t moved; it was obvious the battery was not the problem.
Was the Thokolosi playing tricks on us?
Eventually, we managed to coax three villagers into giving us a push and were able to jumpstart the car.
Our meeting with the chief proved uninspiring. While it was obvious something strange was happening in the village, Kgosi Nametsego Motlhasedi didn’t give us enough to run with. Our best bet was an interview the next day with Modise.
With our Thokolosi story temporarily at a dead end, and the clock now reading 15:30, we decided to head for Bobonong, 100km away, to follow up on the story of a 101-year-old man who had allegedly raped his great granddaughter.
Chasing rapists and Thokolosis – what a way to spend a Friday.
It proved a wasted trip though as the family told us in no uncertain terms to get lost.
Disappointed, tired and increasingly grumpy, we made our weary way back to Phikwe.
Our mood was not helped when we found out our accommodation from the night before was fully booked and we’d have to find somewhere else to stay.
Bad luck or was a mischievous spirit cursing us?
Either way, Executive Guest House turned out to be a worthy substitute so we weren’t too disappointed.
In the end, we even managed to salvage something from the day, completing a successful interview with Hip Hop producer, Drak, for an entertainment piece.
He even wined and dined us, adding some much needed sparkle to what had been a difficult day.
We awoke early on Saturday morning to be met with grey, miserable clouds and a car that would not start.
Another push, this time from the hotel staff, and we headed for a local mechanic, where we were told the starter was kaput.
It proved difficult to fix – well, it took the mechanic a good four hours to repair the damage anyway, in which time he removed several rusty parts from the bottom of Dipflo’s car and sent us into town for replacements.
By then the grey sky had turned an angry shade of black and our drive to Tobane was a wet, quiet one.
The waiting game continued as Modise was nowhere to be found when we arrived at her home.
“She’s at church and won’t be back for a few hours,” explained her daughter, who seemed less than upset at our obvious distress.
Getting desperate, it was time to consider alternative angles.
With our car now working perfectly and the rain finally relenting, it was with renewed vigour that we headed to the homestead of a respected traditional healer in the village.
Apparently, people come from as far away as Maun to meet with this prophet, so anything he had to say would add much-needed weight to our story – which at this point, was admittedly looking pretty bare.
In keeping with the theme of the past two days, however, we learnt the old man had left for ‘masimo’ the night before and wouldn’t be back till Sunday.
“There’s no way your car will make it,” added his daughter, looking at our battered vehicle with scorn.
With Modise still missing in action and 1500hrs fast approaching (we had expected to be back in Ghetto by lunchtime), things were looking bleak.
“Let’s find a pastor, get a comment and get the hell out of here,” growled Dipflo, his famous easy-going nature slipping momentarily.
Our persistence paid off, as after another lengthy wait for the man of God to show up, we secured an interview with
Prophet Frank Mod of Heavenly Embassy International Church.
Although he was unaware of this particular case, Father Mod confirmed mysterious incidents were rife in the village and had even healed an inflicted man himself.
Happy we at least had something, with the sun fading fast, we tried our luck with Modise one last time.
This time, fortune favoured us.
Modise was home, and although she was not at all happy to see us (presumably she thought we had long left for Francistown) the old lady granted us the all-important interview.
While she insisted the rumours were greatly exaggerated, she confirmed ‘something’ had thrown stones through her windows on several occasions.
The African Baptist (AB) church member also admitted her grandson had woken in the middle of the night, screaming about an invisible force strangling him.
Although we did not catch the Thokolosi in the act, we were at least rewarded for our patience.
Thus we triumphantly returned to Ghetto, arriving at around 2100hrs with what would turn out to be a front page exclusive.