Teachers, parents and community leaders are increasingly concerned over a growing trend wherein children purchase muti that they believe makes them invincible in a fight.The muti, called Amakhosi, is also believed to make the wearer more popular with the opposite sex.
Concerns over increasing violence amongst both primary and high school children in Khayelitsha have reached the point where 300 residents met at Monwabisi Park on Thursday night to discuss the situation.
Interviewed independently, sangoma Duma Kude Majwarha said the muti known as Amakhosi was worn in a small bottle in a string of beads around the neck or was mixed in a strip of goat’s skin worn on the wrist.
He said the main ingredient was a powder called phuncuka bemphethe (translation: cannot be touched) and calls upon the wearer to be protected by their ancestors.
“Amakhosi does every thing for you. You can steal and they (ancestors) will protect you. When you are in a fight they fight for you,” said Majwarha.
But he said herbalists and sangomas used the muti for the wrong reasons, and only a sangoma could remove the muti once it had been applied.
Primary school children interviewed said pupils used the muti to be invincible in physical fights. Some said it also helped them to get more attention from the opposite sex, while thieves used it to avoid getting caught.
They described it as powder enclosed in a small bottle worn on a beaded necklace, or rubbed into a goat skin bangle.
The pupils said an initial sample of the muthi cost as little as R5 but if you wanted a more potent version you gave a bottle of brandy or a white chicken to the herbalist or sangoma.
To get the potency of the muthi renewed or increased, it cost anything from R50 to R250.
A seven-year-old girl who can’t be named as she is a minor, said she got Amakhosi from a friend who had bought two bracelets from a herbalist at the Khayelitsha train station.
“She told me that they would help me to win physical fights and protect my family.
“When I’m in a fight I wake them up. I go down on my knees, open all the buttons in my school shirt and pant and shoes. I just say ‘vuka’ and the fight begins.
“Some said my eyes turn red or white but I never saw them because I’m fighting.”
She said the first person she fought was another girl who she beat till she was bleeding from her head.
“Lucky she manage to escape and run.”
She said she had since removed the bracelet but the spirits were still inside her.
Sonwabo Lavimba, 23, said he bought his from a Khayelitsha sangoma but admitted its powers were evil.
“When you have this evil spirit you’re in charge of everything.
“It protects me against other evil spirits and gives me power to win fights. When I’m in a fight they help me. When I need to call the spirits I go down on my knees, remove my belt and open my buttons on my shirt and say ‘Vuka’.”
He said he could also steal things without people noticing.
Mhlophe Gantso, spokesperson for Community Crisis, a residents organization co-operating with police, said the use of Amakhosi started in high schools but had now become common in primary schools as well.
“We investigated lots of children around Khayelitsha schools and they all pointed to sangomas or herbalist. I have three complains from parents saying they’ve been beaten by their kids.”
At the community meeting on Thursday, a decision was taken to try trap a herbalist selling the muti to a minor.
Eight people volunteered and a 13-year-old boy who had already purchased Amakhosi was sent to herbalist trading a the train station to renew its potency.
The herbalist, who residents took to the Lingelethu police station, sold a small packet of powder to the boy with instructions that he should drink it.
Lingelethu police would not comment on the matter. – Nombulelo Damba, West Cape News