A sinister Zulu practice is believed to be making a comeback.
‘Isamuzi’ is described by Estcourt local Sbusiso Hlongwane as a type of ‘witchcraft’ that is used to steal money from unsuspecting victims.
Mr Hlongwane, who is popularly known in the entertainment industry as ‘Sbuhlongs’, was a sceptic turned believer after this criminal practice hit close to home.
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As part of his monthly commitments, Mr Hlongwane, who resides and works in Nottingham Road sends R2 500 via eWallet to his mother who lives in Ntabamhlophe. On October 25, his mother Thembile Hlongwane (49) withdrew the cash, which is used to purchase groceries for the home.
She packed the money into her purse, tucked it into her handbag and crossed the street. Here she encountered a woman who she described to be in her mid-60’s and dressed in black Zulu mourning attire.
“The woman acted like she was passing by and touched my mother’s arm. She said; ‘Sorry mam, you have something on your arm’. My mother replied with a thank you,” explained Mr Hlongwane.
After walking a short distance, Mrs Hlongwane made a sickening realisation. Her money was missing and in its place in her purse was a wad of newspaper cuttings. Completely devastated and without any cash to return home, Mrs Hlongwane stumbled to the taxi rank and met a neighbour who called her son and explained what had happened.
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During the ride back home to Ntabamhlophe, Mrs Hlongwane was enlightened by passengers in the taxi about the practice of ‘isamuzi’, believed to be used by money-swindling criminals for hundreds of years.
“I was not a superstitious person but it happened to my own family,” said Mr Hlongwane.
He went on to explain that the modus operandi is for the perpetrators to dress in mourning clothes, which earns trust from the victim. The scam artist produces a ‘black sticky substance’ which is rubbed onto the victim while passing on the street. The perpetrator would strike up a random conversation with the victim. According to Mr Hlongwane, it is believed that once conversation is initiated, the person has the power to ‘steal’ your money. “I don’t know how they do it but it is happening in other places too in Pietermaritzburg,” he said. Mrs Hlongwane has not reported this incident to the police.
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“Police want physical evidence, which we don’t have. So my mother has just learnt her lesson,” Mr Hlongwane explained.
As for the purse full of papers, Mrs Hlongwane is holding onto it because legend has it that if you keep them long enough, the wads of newspaper will revert to your cash!