She visited dark rooms filled with ceremonial candles and containers of muthi, performed numerous cleansing and healing rituals and spent more than half a million rand. All in the hope of getting help for recurring headaches and maybe finding love again. Instead Lerato Mfuthi* has been left with an even bigger headache.
The 37-year-old was scammed by a fake prophet, leaving her almost R600 000 in debt with no clue as to how she’ll repay it. And instead of the prophet “bringing back her lost love” – in this case her former husband – she’s alone, broke and struggling to come to terms with being duped. Lerato is a professional woman with an honours degree in nursing and a good job managing public health programmes in Pretoria.
She never imagined she could ever fall for a scam like this, she tells us. Like most people living in Gauteng Lerato sees thousands of posters on lampposts advertising help with everything from health woes and work opportunities to the return of lost lovers and genital enhancement. She usually barely gives them a second glance – but in June last year a poster on a traffic-light pole on the R55 in Olievenhoutbosch, Tshwane, caught her eye.