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‘Matholwane’ or Mad Man?

Matopi’s late night visitor spooks residents

A Matopi family are convinced that the strange-looking man who wandered into their yard dazed and confused on Friday night is a ‘matholwane’.

Police, however, maintain that the late night visitor is in fact a mentally-disturbed Zimbabwean rambler who got lost in the bush and inadvertently ended up in the small border village.

Huddling by the fire at around nine in the evening, 49-year-old Ompatile Thusang and her three children got the shock of their lives when, appearing from out of the darkness, a stranger boldly entered their yard and sat down beside them without saying a word.

The uninvited visitor’s bizarre behavior was matched by his unusual appearance.

“That thing, I do not know whether I can say it is a human being or what, looked scary. It was our first time to see such in our lives. He was short with stunted feet. What shocked us to the core was his face; it looked horrible, with long teeth hanging outside the mouth and saliva dripping freely down his chin,” recalls Thusang, unable to suppress a shudder as she recounts her tale to The Voice on Monday morning.

“When he got by the hut he seemed scared to get inside. He walked slowly, shuffling against the mud hut and eventually summoned the courage to enter, looking wildly in all directions. It was very cold but that person, even though I doubt it is a person, was wearing a track top, some shorts and no shoes,” continues Thusang.

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According to the mother-of-three, after seating himself on the soil floor, the intruder kept eerily quiet.

It was then that Thusang screamed for help. Neighbours arrived on the scene, and, equally startled by the peculiar sight, quickly called the police.

“Fortunately we live right opposite the police post. For once the cops responded quickly. They handcuffed him and took him away,” revealed Thusang, adding she has not been feeling well since the encounter.

Originally from Molepolole, the worried woman is considering relocating back home.

“I am scared that my children will be traumatised by this. Here in Matopi I am staying with the father of my children. I believe that was deep witchcraft from the village. In Molepolole there is witchcraft, yes, but it cannot be like what I saw in Matopi last week,” she said, telling The Voice the family has since visited church elders to get healing water to help them feel better.

Similarly, another woman who witnessed Matopi’s unexpected visitor said she suspects witchcraft in the village had spiraled out of control.

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“That thing is not a person, it was a matholwane. If you could have seen it you would believe so too. There is no human being like that: with such big teeth and walking barefooted in that cold, no way!” insisted the woman, who asked for her identity to be omitted from the story as she fears a possible supernatural backlash.

As The Voice prepare to leave, a villager suggests we first visit Matsiloje Police Station first.

“It is very busy at the police station right now. People are storming there to see a matholwane in the flesh. The residents of Matsiloje want the Matopi residents to come and take their matholwane,” said the man, who also refused
to give his name.

However, when The Voice arrive in Mastiloje, although the village is indeed buzzing with talk of the ‘matholwane’, the station is quiet.

Apparently a small crowd had gathered outside the station over the weekend but were long since sent home.

Speaking to The Voice, Matsiloje Station Commander, Charles Mbengwa dismissed talk of the supernatural, explaining they suspect the man is mentally challenged.

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“Yes, I have been told that people came to our police station saying they want to see a matholwane we are keeping. I mean matholwane is magic, how can a police officer even touch a matholwane? There is nothing like that. We had someone we think is an imbecile who came from the neighboring country and found himself in Matopi,” said Mbengwa.

“That person is harmless but we suspect he is not well mentally. He was taken for Covid-19 swabbing on Monday and even this Wednesday he was taken back for swabbing then he will be repatriated. That man can only speak Ndebele, that is why he was not able to talk when people were speaking Setswana,” said Mbengwa, adding that when asked how old he was, the man replied, “Two!”

The late night rambler is currently being kept in a cell at Matsiloje Police Station awaiting repatriation to Zimbabwe by immigration officers.

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