Family tormented by ‘evil spirits’

Family tormented by ‘evil spirits’

TEYA-TEYANENG – A sangoma, 78-year-old ’Maliketso Tsibela is often called upon to deliver people bedevilled by mysterious misfortunes they can’t quite get answers on from orthodox science and medicine. Yet, it appears she can’t diagnose her own problems, let alone cure them as mysterious events at her home turn her from “doctor” to patient.

’Maliketso and her 81-year-old husband Tumahole have fled their home, or what was left of it, after enduring torment from an invisible force.
She has no answers on what has been hitting her family and is now staying at a government shelter, as the force believed to be a thokolosi makes life unbearable.

Stones were hurled at the family while an iron rod struck with ferocity. The family only sees the stones and the rod but not the “person” behind the attacks. To make matters worse, the invisible attacker has torched their homestead to ashes.

When their village chief assisted with a temporary shelter in his yard, it was also mysteriously set ablaze.
The couple and their two grandchildren are being housed by the Berea District Administrator at one of the unused servants’ quarters usually reserved for government officials in Teya-Teyaneng town.

The couple’s home is in Mapoteng, a small semi-rural town some 50 kilometres east of Teya-Teyaneng. Despite being a sangoma ’Maliketso says she does not see what has been hitting them for the past five months. She thinks it is a thokolosi, a Sesotho mythological being which in legends is depicted as a creation of witches used to fight enemies.

They are believed to possess supernatural powers and are much feared among Basotho, including the so-called civilised people who profess non-belief in witchcraft. Many people go to sangomas and the church leaders in hopes of fighting off the thokolosi.
’Maliketso said she was “very afraid” when the invisible being torched her house in May. Initially she thought it was fotha, another legendary imperceptible witchcraft-related being that causes fire.

She says while fotha is only related to fire a thokolosi is associated with fires, beatings, misfortunes and even killings.
She said it was around 7pm when her grandson, who is in Grade 4, shouted that their thatched-roofed hut was burning.
“When I rushed to where he said the fire was coming from I saw that the hut was indeed burning. We don’t cook in that house, we didn’t have the candle on,” ’Maliketso says.

So powerful was the fire that ’Maliketso could not put it out, even with the help of the neighbours.
“It went down to ashes, everything in it burnt down,” ’Maliketso says.
Legend has it that fotha fire is so stubborn that it cannot be put down with merely water but with milk and sand.

After a few days ’Maliketso and her husband were in a corrugated iron shack when the grandson screamed, pointing at another of their houses.
It was their one-roomed flat-roofed house with corrugated iron sheets. “We went to the house to see. There was a fiery figure that was very short in stature. When it saw us, the house started burning,” ‘Maliketso says.

The house was on fire for the whole week with neighbours helping to put down the fire but in vain.
It all defies logic but the family says it has lived through that gruelling ordeal.
“Friday of the following week it collapsed,” ’Maliketso says.

Not long after the collapse of the house, their only remaining shelter, a shack, also caught fire.
“We were coming from town when we found the shack on fire,” ’Maliketso says, adding: “The shack was our last hope. It had all of the things we needed and now all of what we owned has been burnt to ashes.”
The neighbours helped the couple build another shack but the troubles were far from over.
The invisible being started pelting the family with stones.

“We were hit with stones day and night, especially when we were resting,” ’Maliketso says. Sometimes the stones would just hit heavily on the roof of the shack. “Constantly the stones were thrown at us by the unseen figure,” ’Maliketso said. That is when the family turned to the village chief for help.

The chief offered the family a house to sleep in and that very night one of the chief’s houses mysteriously caught fire. “The chief told us to leave his house because he was not ready to have all of his houses burnt down with fire,” says ’Maliketso. The family turned to Mapoteng police station, from where they were transferred to the District Administrator’s office in Teya-Teyaneng. When thepost visited the family in Teya-Teyaneng last week, the couple were in a small room temporarily given to them by the District Administrator while the Social Development Ministry seeks resources to build them a new house away from Mapoteng.

thepost crew could not hold the interview in the house because it was too small, approximately 3 by 3 metres. Food parcels, clothing and cooking utensils donated to them could not fit in the room. ‘Maliketso says since their arrival in Teya-Teyaneng in September, the thokolosi has not bothered them. One of the grandchildren vowed never to return to Mapoteng.

“People suffer there. I don’t want to go there,” he says. His grandfather, Tumahole Tsibela, says he “would rather die than go back to that unfortunate place I called my home”. “It was frightening. We could not see who was throwing stones at us,” he says. ’Maliketso, on the other hand, believes that she will eventually return home.

“Whoever is doing this, and we know her and she needs to come to us and tell us why all of this is being done to us. We need to reconcile,” ’Maliketso said, without naming the suspected witch. Thokolosi, according to sangomas, are real.
A traditional doctor (some prefer to call them witchdoctors) Tlhokomelo Semanama says thokolosi exists and can come in various forms.

“It only depends on what the creator (of the thokolosi) used to create the thokolosi, it can be a monkey, a dog or sometimes a child who died because of being bewitched for his or her image to be used,” Semanama says.

Rose Moremoholo

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