Karoo ‘monster’ terror

2011-07-02 19:17

Watch out when you walk alone on cold nights in the Karoo. A notorious “shape-shifter” has been spotted in the Eastern Cape town of Steytlerville and is striking fear into the hearts and minds of residents in neighbouring Klip­plaat and Willowmore too.

“Bawokazi” (Xhosa for father’s brother), as the shape-shifting monster is known, is either a ­human wearing a white jacket and black pants, a “shockingly ugly” creature or a black dog, according to Steytlerville residents.

Local police were taking no chances and opened a “file” against Bawokazi. They encouraged those who sighted Bawokazi to take photographs, according to spokesperson Warrant Officer Zandisile Nelani.

Nelani confirmed that police ­had received reports of Bawokazi in Klipplaat and Willowmore, and ­another officer swore he heard strange noises from livestock ­every night, a sign the shape-shifter was moving about.

Gaming shop owner Hannes ­November spent a night on ­Bawokazi’s trail, readying himself for a battle with the mysterious creature.

He even hastily built a double-edged sword to fight Bawokazi, ­despite his family pleading with him in vain to stop his one-on-one assault on the shape-shifter.

Earlier this year, November heard an unusual commotion outside his home. He said he waited for Bawokazi for about half-an-hour but the monster failed to ­arrive for its date with destiny.

A man on a mission that night, November climbed a small koppie near his home with a pair of binoculars and his makeshift sword.

Through his binoculars, he said he could see “a man” wearing a white jacket and black pants, with both hands behind his back.

“He stood still whenever cars and people approached,” said ­November.

He said Bawokazi moved back and forth, apparently making a bed in the bushes. “He picked up a white sack and took blankets to the bushes,” he ­explained.

Not wanting to be dismissed as seeing things, November asked two other men to go with him and he challenged Bawokazi, coming within 25 metres of the creature and then five. The monster did not back down.

The fearless November said it was a case of “Jy vir my, ek vir jou” (one-on-one combat). In front of him, the shape-shifter became a black dog with white legs but did not bark at the three intruders.

Rather than face November, ­Bawokazi ran for his life. The community’s lights went out as he fled past their houses.

It was midnight and November had been on the creature’s trail for more than three hours. Police were called at about 1.30am and used their flashlights to search for him, without success.

Luzuko Blou (21) was returning home after a night of boozing when he bumped into Bawokazi in a dark alley.

“Who are you?” he asked, not ­really expecting a response.

Blou says he was shocked at the creature’s ugliness. “I hit it with an empty beer bottle,” he said.

Bawokazi ran away while Blou and other revellers, who had now joined him, chased the monster. But Blou said it grew wings “like a bird” and flew away.

From a distance, swore ­Shavandro Mapoe, Bawokazi looked like a dog. The 17-year-old encountered the shape-shifter one evening.

“When I came closer it was something I had never seen ­before,” he said.

Mapoe said they briefly sized each other up before he backed down and never looked back.

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