Sangomas: ‘Stop judging us’

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Makhosi Thando ‘Pimpdlozi’ Khambule is a traditional healer and businessperson from Imbali.
Makhosi Thando ‘Pimpdlozi’ Khambule is a traditional healer and businessperson from Imbali.
Moeketsi Mamane

Our perceptions of traditional healers are often misinformed, stereotypical, backward and judgmental. This has led to many of them having to deal with added challenges, especially in the professional sphere of their lives.

A young Pietermaritzburg traditional healer and businessperson, Makhosi Thando “Pimpdlozi” Khambule (27), told Weekend Witness that he has had to work extra hard to build up his brand, reputation, dismiss stereotypes and overcome being seen as nothing more than just a sangoma.

Khambule, from Imbali, is a civil engineering graduate but told The Witness that due to his spiritual calling, he was not able to sustain his professional job.

Khambule said he grew up in a Christian home and loved church, but he always knew he had a special gift.

“I used to dream and see things before they happened. At church they said I had a spiritual gift of prophecy,” he said.

After matriculating, he moved to Durban for his tertiary education and that is where Khambule was exposed to the spiritual world, with people around him always telling him that he had a calling.

“I denied it for the longest time. After graduating I was fortunate to get a job, but I was quickly fired. I started drinking excessively and my dreams got worse. In 2016, I decide to accept my calling and went to initiation school. After that, everything in my life just started falling into place.”

Khambule established his brand, Pimpdlozi Khambule. He said Pimpdlozi means a modernised sangoma. “Just like someone would pimp up their car, I am also a pimped up sangoma,” he laughed.

Under his Pimpdlozi brand, Khambule said he has a fashion line, does graphic designing, event planning, catering and designs house plans. He is also in the process of creating a peri-peri paste called PimpPaste, which is currently in the testing phase.

This has seen him being featured on Beats Magazine and even on SABC1’s Instapreneur television program.

Khambule said building up his brand and growing as a sangoma has not been easy.

“There have been bad rumours spread about me because I am a sangoma. People used to say I practice witchcraft and that I kill people, but I have managed to look past all of that.

“There have been incidents where people will show interest in my services or products but then they pull away when they realise I am a sangoma. It’s not a nice feeling. Why am I being judged because I am wearing isiphandla [animal-skin bracelet] yet people have no issues with buying products from Christian or Muslim people?”

But despite all of this, Khambule said he doesn’t hide his spiritual gift, instead he encourages youngsters with the same calling to embrace who they are to have peace in their lives.

To prevent losing more clients, Khambule said he recently opened his new offices at the Regus Business Centre in the city.

He hopes that people who do not want to be associated with his home, where he practices being a sangoma, will be more comfortable making use of his services at a more professional office setup.

Thokoza Thuso ‘Ndlabesola’ Molefe, also from Imbali, is a well-known inyanga and pastor in Pietermaritzburg.

Unlike a traditional healer, Molefe told Weekend Witness that his job is to give people power to obtain whatever it is they want in their lives.

Molefe said he too used to run away from his spiritual calling.

Thokoza Thuso ‘Ndlabesola’ Molefe.
Thokoza Thuso ‘Ndlabesola’ Molefe.

For most of his youth, he worked as a drug dealer and used to consult constantly with traditional healers and izinyanga seeking protection from the police and other drug dealers.

Only after being arrested for fraud, a crime he alleges he did not commit, did he give in to his spiritual calling.

Molefe said when he was released from prison, he had lost all the wealth he had accumulated as a drug dealer and had to rebuild his life from scratch.

Besides practising as an inyanga and a pastor, Molefe said he has also established several businesses, including tuckshops in his township, having motorbikes that are used for deliveries and cars that are used as private taxis.

“Not everyone likes me in Pietermaritzburg. I’ve been accused of many despicable things like killing people and using muthi to accumulate my wealth, all of which is not true. I just try to ignore everything and do my job,” he said.

Molefe said the allegations have not hindered his businesses in any way as he has other people operating them for him. He did, however, say because of such rumours, the police are constantly harassing him.

“I am a respected inyanga and pastor, but I am subjected to such treatment by the police. They’re constantly at my house looking for people’s heads and body parts or I’m being blamed for helping killers,” he said.

“At the end of the day, I am also a father, a husband, a breadwinner, a brother and friend to many people and I am just fulfilling my calling. We shouldn’t be stereotyped for this,” said Molefe.

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