Heaven for R100

Susan Erasmus
Whatever it is you want, I know of a guy who can make it all happen for a hundred bucks, says Susan Erasmus.

The end of all your troubles is in sight. Whether you want to learn to play the guitar, get your husband back, get a good job, win a court case, cure diabetes or cancer, or have a wonderful sex life, help is at hand.

And all this for a mere R100 consultation fee.

Or so the little pamphlet on the windscreen of my car told me. There were green palm trees drawn in the one corner and a rather blurred photograph of the self-styled prophet/healer, recently returned from Zanzibar or Marrakesh – I forget which. I just remember the place sounded exotic and so did the name of the 'prophet'.

There were also vague references from untraceable people, such as John from Stone Town and Alyssa from Morocco, whose lives had undergone a complete transformation ever since they had crossed this charlatan’s hand with silver.

There were contact details and an address, the latter in a part of town you would not normally frequent, unless you had a cavalier disregard for your personal safety.

Astonishing spells
On the astonishing list of changes this healer could bring about in your life were many things which under normal circumstances would require the co-operation of others: your boss would like you; your troubles with the neighbours would recede; you will pass your drivers’ licence test; your in-laws will think you are wonderful; your terminal disease will be cured.

All of this would be funny, if it weren’t so sad. Who hasn’t at times wished they could make a troublesome ex disappear, or find a quick cure for a nasty or debilitating illness?

These so-called healers make a living from others’ desperation. We all wish we had control over the things that cause us pain. And these people merrily cash in on this, seemingly without conscience.

Control is a magic word – much of what we do in life is motivated by a desire to make things run our way. And magic is supposedly used to bring about exactly what the bearer of the R50 or the R100 wants. With the help of a few herbs, a few incantations, a few mumblings in the dark, all will be well. Or so we are told.

Only it usually isn’t. And to top all your woes, you are now minus the R100 you paid the self-styled “doctor” from Zanzibar.

Pay-back time?
A German woman, who a few years ago took a hefty fee off someone, was ordered to pay it all back when the spell she cast – for a mere R10 000 - failed to make her client’s partner return. Maybe forced refunds would make self-styled prophets reconsider a career in the post office or with the local municipality’s cleaning squad.

Maybe we should try to hold people accountable for their promises. So, when your in-laws still want to hit you, or you did not become the CEO, or your lungs still burn all day, it might be an idea to return to the backstreet healer and demand your R100 back.

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but your chances of success are slim indeed. What you are paying for is not a cure or a solution, it is a fine for your gullibility. If these spells really worked, would they cost so little?

But there are times that I so wish a mere R100 could take care of weak teeth, in-fighting at the office, home repairs, difficult family members, problems with livestock and broken domestic appliances. What if this guy is onto something?

I have to run - there’s a man from Zanzibar I need to go and see right now.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24 updated May 2010)

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