Windhoek-A 27-year-old woman from Windhoek ended up seeking spiritual healing from a respected pastor after a self-proclaimed traditional healer’s financial demands to cleanse her of “bad spirits” became excessive and unbearable.
The woman, who spent N$28,100 on an Otjomuise healer, had initially visited the witchdoctor to simply find out if her boyfriend was cheating on her.
But she got ensnared with the healer as he told the woman she had “bad spirits” following her and that there was a need to cleanse her.
Little did she know this was a strategy to extort money from her.
The woman was asked to pay a further N$39,000 for four cows and a camel to permanently cleanse her of the strong “spirits” which were allegedly sent by a female family member who didn’t want to see her progress in life. However, she had run out of money and informed her sister about the healer’s demands.
The healer allegedly explained the “spirits” also didn’t want the woman to get married, to have children and worse, wanted her dead. These spirits would not also allow her relationships to last.
The young woman narrated her tale to New Era earlier this week as she accompanied the Namibian Police to an Otjomuise rented home, where they arrested a healer from Tanzania. Two other tenants who had supposedly helped ‘heal’ the woman were not present during the arrest.
This is the third time the police arrested foreign nationals operating as fake traditional healers in Windhoek. In all three cases these foreign nationals denied being healers but their cellphone conversations with potential clients revealed something different.
These healers promised clients to return lost lovers, business attraction, job promotions, help with financial problems and resolve premature ejaculation in men. They also have rats that bring clients’ money, among many other claims.
The 27-year-old woman, who is furthering her studies, told New Era she met the healer in July this year through a friend who had a cousin going through relationship problems. They sought the healer’s services and were allegedly helped.
The woman also told New Era she was employed before but she stopped working to upgrade her qualifications. She used her savings to pay the healer.
During her first visit she recalls the healer telling her right away that her boyfriend was unfaithful. However, besides her boyfriend cheating on her she was told she had ‘spirits’ following her, which scared her.
At some point the healer told her she needed crocodile blood for which she paid N$10,000. She also pointed out that during her consultation a voice of an ancestor told her to purchase a bottle of Johnnie Walker Whisky.
She added that she was also given a small bead to keep that would clear her of the spirits. The healer told her not to lose the bead.
Her consultations began when she was given herbs for which she paid N$600, to bath with for three days. She was told to return to the healer after three days with some of the water she bathed in.
During the second session, the woman and healer sat in a completely dark room. She remembers the healer taking a pot with a drinking glass placed inside.
“He asked me to spit in the pot but I was so scared that I couldn’t produce any saliva.” The healer then told her to pee in the pot.
She said the healer then placed the pot on a two-plate stove and started stirring the urine.
Through this process the woman was asked to chase back the witches to where they came from.
The healer temporarily left the room and returned.
“He took the pot off the stove. He also told me to remove all my clothes, including the panty and all the jewellery. He opened the pot and there were bones inside. The healer appeared shocked and told me those were the spirits following me. He said that was the bad luck in my life. He added that we have problems but don’t seek help,” she recalls. She added that she started shivering.
The young woman stated that the healer told her he needed to send those spirits to the Kavango River where they came from. “He also said if I don’t want to I can go home with the bones. I told him I was scared, I can’t go home with them.”
The woman paid N$6,000 for the healer to travel to the Kavango to go throw the “spirits” into the river. This
amount included N$800 for a goat that represented the woman, and traditional clothes where the spirits were wrapped in, amongst others.
After four days, the healer returned and gave the woman a small bead, which he said she shouldn’t lose or tell anyone about. In fact she was also warned not to tell anyone about her visits to the healer.
When the healer returned from Kavango he invited the woman back to him and told her the “spirits” were big and that he needed two litres of crocodile blood which cost N$10,000. The woman also had to pay for the person going to kill the crocodile and for it to be delivered in Windhoek.
The woman pointed out that while she sat in the healing room a second person would start chanting and talking out of nowhere, telling her not to be scared as they wanted to help her.
Namibian Police Chief Inspector Christina van Dunem Fonsech said the healers would put fellow housemates behind the sheets, which covered the whole room, and they pretended to be ancestors talking to the clients.
The healer further demanded that to completely clear the woman of her “spirits” she must pay N$38,000 for four cows and a camel.
At this point the woman told the healer she didn’t have money but she subsequently spoke to her sister and cousins about the healer’s demands and they advised her to go to a pastor for prayers. They also advised her to open a case with the police, which led to the Tanzanian’s arrest.
Windhoek psychologist Dr Joab Mudzanapabwe explained that the psychology behind people visiting traditional healers has to do with desperation, as they are trying to get something they are failing to get. “Obviously you probably have tried some conventional ways or basically you are born in that system which normally consult traditional healers,” he stated. He also explained that traditional healers are not new – they are part of the society.
“The challenge has to do with an authenticity issue and that nowadays they (healers) are driven by financial gains like many other fields of people. People consult traditional healers because of desperation and they would have lost something they want or are not able to get. They will try to implore whatever systems are at their disposal to get that. It is driven by that and a belief system.”
Asked if this can have a traumatising effect on the people who visit healers, Mudzanapabwe said it all depends on the things that have been done to them during their visit, but there’s an element of vulnerability and people are desperate, become suggestable and follow a lot of instruction.
Officials from the health ministry were not available for comment on how the pending traditional healer’s Bill would regulate the bogus activities of unqualified healers.