Swindled man tells his story
The Francistown man who was tricked out of money he inherited from his late mother has spoken of the fear that persuaded him to part with P120 000 in the space of a few months.
Pointing to the now empty house where he underwent rituals to cleanse him of the evil spirits that he was told were threatening his life, 22-year-old Unami Madatha described how three self-styled traditional doctors had conned him out of his cash.
“Shortly after I was given the money I received a call from someone who told me that my life was in danger. I have no idea where he got my cell phone number, and I am not someone who consults traditional doctors, but I agreed to meet the caller since he seemed to know a lot about my circumstances.”
A man who introduced himself as George Thomas, a 49-year-old one-armed Tanzanian now in court on fraud charges, and two other men, a Dr Mwakhashala and another man called Kelly, met Unami.
“They told me everything about my family background. That my mother had just passed away and I would be next if I did not get help soon,” he said.
After managing to scare Unami they advised him to visit them at a house in Area S so they could perform the cleansing rituals, a process which would last for the next five months.
“At their house I was told to remove my shoes before entering a dark room draped in black, with a table covered in a white cloth. I also noticed a reed basket with two carved wooden dolls, with roots and beads.”
After hours of praying, burning incense, drinking traditional concoctions and consulting the ancestors, Unami was advised that four sheep had to be slaughtered for their blood. “This was to appease the ancestors and for the doctors to this they needed P25 000. They asked me to bring the money the next day, but before I left they gave me medicine to put under my pillow that night so that the people at the bank would not question why I needed so much money. I never saw the sheep or the blood,” continued Unami, a petrol attendant in Francistown.
“After drinking the medicine they gave me I felt dizzy and tired. I am not very sure what they did to me, but I was not in my right senses.”
On the second meeting with the doctors Unami was told that the ancestors now wanted four cows, and he parted with P22 000. On another occasion he was informed that they needed to perform an important ritual in Kazungula, a trip that required P27 000.
In between these times he was instructed to come as often as possible to get medicine and to talk to the ancestors, paying the doctors P500 a visit.
“ I was told to bath in some red medicine which they said would wash off evil spirits,” Unami said.
Then on a third occasion he was told that a ritual had to be performed at Gaborone Dam and this time he parted with P16 500.
Fast running out of funds the concerned heir only became suspicious when he was given a small metal trunk, which he was told not to open until next year.
“They told me all my money would come back to me and that the ancestors would return it, but only if I didn’t tell anyone or open the trunk until January. They said if ever I told a soul the ancestors would punish me by cutting off my arm like George, who apparently had lost his as punishment for angering the gods. They also promised to hunt for me and kill me should I disobey,” Unami added.
He continued: “After several sleepless nights my cousin visited me and saw that I was not myself. He kept asking questions until I told him about the trunk locked in my wardrobe.”
The two men then unlocked the ‘fortune’ trunk only to find a small pillow and cardboard paper. Angry at being duped the two men tracked the doctors down and ambushed George and Kelly at Selepa where they had moved.
“I had told them I had a problem. When my cousin and I got there we managed to detain George, while Kelly escaped and Dr Mwakhashala was said to be in Malawi. That’s when we called the police to come and take over.”
Unami described seeing many other ‘clients’ at the house in Area S and along with the police urged others who may have been swindled in the same way to come forward and add their story.
He remains hopeful that if Thomas is convicted he may get some of his money back as the doctors had apparently brought a new car, which he hopes the State will seize and auction.
The case is set to continue later this month.