Sorcery Sorcery Types Examples of Sorcery Protection and Punishment Witchcraft Trial Ritual Murder

© 2018 Dr Margaret Sheppard

These are very brief details of further examples of sorcery noted and recorded during my fieldwork. Those cases marked with similar asterisks indicate the involvement of the same sorcerer.

I. In 1978 twin babies died. The maternal grandparents were suspected as they were displeased because of the outstanding unpaid bogadi (bridewealth). These twins had been the 7th and 8th children born to the couple.

2. In 1978 a house burnt down, and the paraffin stored inside exploded. The owner  was suspected to be a thief and to  have stolen the. Paraffin. The resultant “lightning” (the fire) had therefore been caused by the true owner's protective medicines.

** 3. July 1978  A young wife died. She had been poisoned by her husband's Rrakgadi (father’s  elder sister) who had wanted him to marry one of her daughters.

4. Aug. 1978 a man was bewitched by jealous relatives from his kgotla so that he would never support his family.

5. Sept. 1978 A man who had left his wife to live with a mistress died. Traditional doctors called to divine cause of death "found" his mistress had bewitched him to leave his family responsibilities so that she could benefit from his earnings. This was the result of the“punishment” caused by the protective medicines  with which the couple had been protected at their original wedding

6. Oct. 1978 The baby of a young woman, who had had the baby with a married man, died. The man’s wife was divined to have bewitched the baby through her jealousy of her husband’s mistress.

7. Nov. 1978 An informant related how she had been bewitched by sorcerer relatives, who had even killed her mother. She had become a Zionist so that she could use Holy Water to protect herself from them.

8. 1978 Another informant related how a  sorcerer, a barren woman, from her malome's (maternal uncle’s) kgotla was jealous of other people having children. She had killed many children in that kgotla. She was so powerful that she merely had to point a finger at them and they would die.

9. Dec. 1978 A woman died after being invited to go and drink traditional beer that had been poisoned with her name (i.e. no one else died).

10. Dec 1978 A boy of 12 had to be admitted to hospital in a very confused state. His trousers had been stolen by kgotla sorcerers.

* 11. Dec 1978 a 6 month old baby died, and a few days later her twin sister also died. They were divined as having been caused to die by a sorcerer kgotla relative who was jealous of their mother's engagement to a rich man.

** 12. Dec. 1978 A woman suffered from a very painful swollen elbow that the hospital could not cure satisfactorily. Both traditional doctors and Zion prophets divined that she had been bewitched by sorcery being hidden, by her brother's sorcerer wife, in the mud she was mixing to repair walls.

13. Jan. 1979 A house was struck by lightning. The owners had suffered greatly from "accidents", for example, the previous year their ox wagon had overturned and a family member had been seriously  injured. Kgotla relatives who were jealous of their wealth and progress were blamed.

14. Feb. 1979 Two boys playing football were struck by lightning and died. One was from a family that had suffered many sorcery attacks. For example, the previous year the boy's father had been killed in a road accident, and in January a close relative had been poisoned by his mistress.

15. April 1979 A girl engaged to a rich man fell off her bicycle at the Lands and required 6 stitches. In February she had been struck by lightning. People jealous of her marriage were divined as bewitching her.

16. April 1979 Two related school boys had to be sent home because they became very confused. They had been bewitched by each other's parents.

*** 17. April 1979 A woman entered a nearby yard and was observed by children burying sorcery at the entrance. In May the home was badly damaged by a whirlwind. The traditional doctor divined that sorcerers were jealous of the  family's progress.

18. May 1979 a young man was poisoned by shebeen queen.

]9. July 1979 Two houses at a shebeen were burnt down. Traditional doctors divined that this  was caused by a male customer's parents because their son had reently returned from a mines contract and had been cheated of all his money by the owner's wife. When he protested at the end of the relationship, the kgotla had fined him 2 cattle for his rudeness to a married woman.

* 20. Sept. 1979  A woman so badly insulted the lady she employed to help her that the lady left but threatened her employer. Some time later a small child upset porridge over a baby. This was divined as having been caused by the dissatisfied ex-worker, who was a sorcerer.

*** 21. Sept 1979 (This incident, reported by the sister, had taken place in the 1960's) A mother could not suckle her baby so cattle were brought from her family Cattle-post to feed the baby. The cows that were brought were bewitched in the village by relatives, so that when they returned to their Cattle-post all the other cattle started to die of disease or falling off cliffs - a herd of about 50 was reduced to 3.

** 22. Sept 1979 A girl from a  home of reputed sorcerers, was caught by other students using mothusa plants on her agricultural science plot. These were the type of plants that would help her garden to be fruitful at the expense of the neighbouring plots. Jealous neighbours  use such plants at their Lands to make their neighbour’s harvest fail.

23. Sept. 1979 I was shown a mad woman who was supposed to have become mad as a result of attempting unsuccessfully to train as a sorcerer. She had had to pay P40 to train. The first night she had been given human intestines to clean. This had horrified her so much that she became mad and started to reveal sorcery secrets. She always showed people her buttocks where the sorcerers had injected her so that she would wake up easily when they came to call her to join the group's activities at night.

24. Sept 1979 A secondary student was badly burnt when his paraffin stove caught on fire. Traditional doctors found that relatives jealous of him being sent to school had caused this to happen.

25. Oct. 1979 A woman became ill with badly swollen legs and terrible pains. After receiving no help at the hospital she consulted a traditional doctor» who divined that she was being bewitched by the family of the man she was in love with because they wanted him to marry someone else.

** 26. Nov. 1979 A man threatened his mother with a knife and when other women came to help her he threatened them too. In the kgotla trial it was revealed that he had consulted a traditional doctor when his mother  had refused to allow him to marry his girlfriend. The traditional doctor had told him his mother was training to be a sorcerer and had even named her trainers. This had led to his fury and actions towards his mother. The mother's traditional doctor on the other hand, had  told her that the girlfriend was bewitching her son so that she could have everything he earned and he would not give anything to his parents - he had even moved with all his possessions to his girlfriend’s home.)

27. Nov. 1979 A man died suddenly when he was just about to finish building a new shop, and he had just bought a pick-up. Traditional doctors divined sorcery from jealous relatives.

** 28. Nov. 1979  A baby died. This was the 6th child the mother had lost. She was divined as having been bewitched by a sorcerer who had been made pregnant by her brother. The family had refused to agree to let the brother marry the girl.

29. Nov. 1979 A tractor was struck by lightning at the Lands. This had never been known to happen before. A few years previously this same family had suffered when a zinc roof had been blown off their new house. Jealous kgotla sorcerers were divined as the causers.

** 30. Dec. 1979 A child with a high fever was brought from the Cattle-post. At the hospital, advanced T.B. was diagnosed. A traditional doctor divined that the child's panties had been stolen by a sorcerer relative during her grandfather's funeral. This sorcerer was jealous that the girl's mother, as the only child, was going to inherit all her father's possessions.

31. Dec. 1979 A young man returning from a mines contract was attacked on the train, his luggage and money were stolen. When he consulted his traditional doctor he was told that he was lucky he had not died. Fortunately the traditional doctor he had consulted in Johannesburg had been powerful and his protections had saved his life. The trouble had been caused by people of his malome's (maternal Uncle’s)  kgotla who had bewitched him to suffer misfortune and even be killed.

32. Dec. 1979 A secondary student showed me where his hair had been cut at the base of his hair line, whilst he slept. The traditional doctor consulted had divined that sorcerers of his kgotla had stolen it to bewitch him because they were jealous that his education would allow his family to progress. They aimed to bewitch him to fail his coming exams and be unsuccessful in finding employment. Two of his books had also been stolen to bewitch him. These sorcerers had not sent their own children to school and were now regretting it.

** 33. Dec. 1979 A new bride became mad. She had been given poison by a sorcerer from her in-law’s kgotla. This sorcerer was jealous that the bride had had a Sekgoa (white) wedding whereas she (the sorcerer) had only had a Setswana one. The traditional doctor also saw that the new bride had been bewitched by relatives of her in-laws, who did not like her. Their sorcery had made her husband not like her and refuse to sleep with her and claim that he had been forced to marry her.

34. Jan. 1980 A woman was struck by lightning whilst sitting in her house.

*** 35. Feb. 1980 A yard was struck by lightning. The crippled household head and two of his daughters all fainted with shock. This lightning was divined as caused by sorcerers for various reasons:

(i) The wife had a kgot1a trial pending against her son, who had beaten her, so he could have “sent” it.

         (ii) The wife could have been bewitched by the wives of the men she was sleeping with.

(iii) People jealous of the two illiterate daughters having managed to find "good" jobs locally.

36. June 1980 A man was badly injured by baboons which had attacked him when he attempted to drive them out of his Lands. His wife was said to be a sorcerer who allegedly kept dithokolosi (familiars) of the baboon type. The baboons that attacked her husband were thus interpreted as trying to kill him because they were jealous of him sleeping with his wife. (A sorcerer is believed to sleep with her dithokolosi).

*** 37. June 1980 A sorcerer became jealous that the son of a neighbour had had a very successful harvest the previous year. When he ploughed and planted his parents' Lands the next year she decided to bewitch him. Both traditional doctors and Zion prophets (his brother was a Zionist) warned him of the danger he was in and "saw" that the jealous sorcerer had buried sorcery at their Lands to kill him. He was sent home to Kanye until the sorcery could be neutralised.

*** 38. June 1980 A young man suffered from a sore on his foot. The hospital could not cure it, and he had difficulty in walking. His parents called a traditional doctor who divined that a sorcerer from the kgotla had buried sorcery in their yard to kill him and his nephew, as she was jealous that they were both working. He had walked over it and this had caused the sore.

39. July 1980 A student had suffered from very bad nosebleeds ever since entering secondary school. Traditional doctors called by his family had divined that he was bewitched by the family of a relative with whom he had attended primary school. This relative had been hopeless and failed Std. VII, so now her parents in their jealousy, were bewitching him.

40. July 1980 A new pumper was appointed in a sub-village. Previously the job had been regarded as hereditary from father to son. When the new man was appointed the son who believed he should have had the job bewitched the pump which repeatedly broke down. In the end he was begged by the villagers to stop it.

41. Sept. 1980 A wife was suddenly attacked by a badly swelling stomach and sores on her legs. Before she could be taken to the hospital she died. It was divined that she had been given poison by a sorcerer.

** 42. Oct. 1980 A young woman awoke to find some of her hair had been cut from the base of her hairline during the night. The traditional doctor consulted divined that people jealous of her engagement had stolen it to bewitch her.

43. Jan. 1981 A married woman who had long been unfaithful was struck by lightning. The lightning was divined as having been caused by her husband's protections, because she had tried to bewitch him to be killed in the mines so that she could marry her boyfriend without losing everything through a divorce.

44. Feb. 1981 A young wife became very ill after she had eaten food at the home of a neighbouring young woman. She had stomach ache, constipation and loss of appetite. She went to the hospital and a private practitioner without success. A traditional doctor called by her in-laws, and Zion prophets called by her husband, "saw" that she had been poisoned by the other girl whom she had thought to be her friend, who was in love with her husband and wanted to kill her.

45. April 1981 A traditional doctor involved with supplying sorcery disappeared for several days. Traditional doctors and Zion prophets  consulted in an effort to trace him "saw" he would be found dead in the hills. He was eventually found in the direction "seen", in a serious condition. This was supposed to have been caused by the protective medicines of the many people he had bewitched. (He was attributed with being involved with several of the above cases, supplying sorcerers with the tools to commit their acts of sorcery.)

*** 46. May 1981 A man wrongly arrested by the police for shop theft. He was beaten up during interrogation. He had only just returned from a South African mines contract so could not have been guilty of the thefts, which had taken place while he was still in South Africa. When he was released his family consulted traditional doctors, who divined that he had been bewitched by a sorcerer who was very jealous of the family's cattle.

** 47. June 1981 Two wealthy brothers working in the mines both started to have trouble with their marriages, involving unfaithfulness. Traditional doctors divined that they had been bewitched by a kgotla woman who was jealous that neither of them had married her daughters.

48. Sept. 1981 An old woman died. The wife of her second son was suspected of bewitching her, as they had always been on bad terms. This daughter-in-law had refused to cook for her, and during the funeral refused to allow her house to be used.

49. Dec. 1981 A woman was killed by lightning at her Lands. She and a child were struck whilst sitting inside the house. Her widower had lost three wives and he was being bewitched by kgotla members.

50. Dec. 1981 A husband died. His wife was blamed because while he was in the mines she had built and had doctored a new kraal. When her son first entered this kraal he had gone mad, but later had been cured by Zionists. When the husband returned from the mines, after entering the kraal he had felt terrible pain spreading all over his body from the hand with which he had touched the kraal. He had been admitted to hospital for about three months and had died.

51, Feb. 1982 A Standard VII girl who had been admitted to Form 1 in Secondary School died. She was staying at the Lands when she suddenly started vomiting and fainting. She died on the way to hospital. Traditional doctors divined an old barren woman of the kgotla as having given her poison because she was jealous of her education.

52. Early 1982 A man was stabbed to death whilst on a South African mines contract. The body was brought home for burial and P600 was handed over to his Malome (maternal Uncle) who was in charge of the funeral arrangements. The Malome used about P200 for buying food needed for the feast. When the mother of the dead man asked him for the change he accused her of only being interested in the money. Traditional doctors next told her that that same malome had bewitched her son to be stabbed (as he had not been killed whilst on duty she did not receive any compensation from the M.L.O.) During the kgotla case over the P400 change the mother of the dead man had apparently stated that the Bo-malome (maternal Uncles) should keep that money carefully as they would need to use it for their own family funeral shortly. In May of that year, the son of the malome was killed in a road accident.

53. June 1982 A Zionist builder was burnt to death. He had put diesel inside his house and then went outside to stand in the sun. He forgot about the diesel when he re-entered and struck a match. He caught on fire and burnt to death whilst trying to run away. He had had an argument with work mates over the money they were to share for building houses. The argument became so heated that one man had stated that the builder should not worry about the money he owed them as he would use it in Heaven. When he died this man who had threatened him was suspected.

54. Jan. 1983 Throughout 1982 a man and his wife had had a troubled marriage and it had eventually been decided to divorce. She had moved out of his kgotla to her own home. The squabbles continued over the children and the possessions. In January 1983 a rock rabbit was seen in a tree in the husband's kgotla during the day. People were very frightened to see this normally nocturnal animal that lives in rocks, in the middle of the village at that time of day. Eventually it had been killed. Two traditional doctors had cast their bones and divined that it had been "sent" by the ex-wife to kill her husband. She had tried to send him lightning but because his kgotla protection was very powerful it had changed into a rock rabbit. The body of the rock rabbit was burnt and "washed" to neutralise its sorcery effect.

55. Jan.1983 A man who had been trying to start a new business went mad. He had twice failed to obtain the necessary human being ordered by the traditional doctor who needed certain parts of one to make the medicine to bring him success. The second time the father of the child he had failed to steal, arranged for his footsteps to be bewitched by his (the father's) traditional doctor. This had caused the man to go mad.

A victim’s hair had been cut and stolen by a sorcerer at  the base of his hairline whilst he slept (see 32 below for fuller details). He feared this would be used later to bewitch him.

Owl on a kgotla tree during the day frightened  neighbours as this is a “night bird”. It was  believed to have been “sent” by a sorcerer foretelling a death.

Blood mixed with sorcery found smeared on the wall of a house by a sorcerer to bewitch the residents and bring ill-fortune. This had been done in the night and was only found in the morning.

Porridge mixed with sorcery on the  entrance to a house for the same reason.This had also been found in the morning

More Examples of Sorcery