Impepho is used in every indumba by izangoma to communicate with the ancestors, and it has to be the very best. Sangoma Esther Dhlamini of Tsakanem Ekurhuleni however, bought impepho that looked exactly like the real thing but turned out to be fake. She was forced to buy the scammers’ product because lockdown restriction of movement makes it impossible for her to get to her usual supplier. “It looks like the real impepho, but when you burn it, it smells terrible,” she said.
Sangomas are now terrified that the ancestors will forsake them and that they could lose clients as a consequence. Many sangomas have been hit hard by this evil scam. Esther Dhlamini said that the ancestors would be chased away, “they won’t stand the smell.”
“With or without corona, I need to communicate with my ancestors. When people came around selling it, I thought let me buy it.”
She was convinced that it was the real impepho until she burned it. “That’s when I suspected I’d been scammed. It wasn’t the right smell,” she said. She continued that the ancestors would not accommodate her if the impepho was fake. “I tried to communicate with the ancestors but everything went blank. That’s when I knew the impepho is fake. I want to warn other sangomas to be careful of the scam because if they buy it, they might lose connection with their ancestors and soon their customers.”
Another sangoma, Menziwa ka Mapholoba from Orlando East in Soweto said:” I bought impepho from guys in the streets because I couldn’t move around freely. When I burned it, it didn’t smell the same as the impepho I’m used to.” Apart from it being fake, he was made to pay R100 a packet, where it usually costs between R40 and R60. “They said it’s expensive because it’s hard to find. They scammed us. But the ancestors will deal with them.” Sangoma Nzama Maluleke from Meadowlands, said that he never would have thought anyone might think of robbing izangoma. “But this country is full of crooks. Now we too have been scammed, Izangoma needs to be vigilant.”
The izangoma will not be reporting the matter to the police, and will put their trust in the ancestors to punish the transgressors. “Those evil people will come running back to apologise,” said Sangoma Esther.