POPULAR traditional healer, Thato “Sandawana” Nkone, appeared before the Butha-Buthe Magistrate’s Court this week charged with raping a 16-year-old girl who had come to him for treatment.
The 44-year-old healer, who has gained repute in Lesotho and some parts of South Africa for his healing powers, was arrested on Friday last week and appeared before Magistrate ‘Makhotso Kabi and Prosecutor Thoora Semela.
He was released on M1000 bail and is expected back in court on 20 October 2014.
According to the charge sheet, Mr Nkone “unlawfully and intentionally had sexual intercourse” with the 16-year-old girl near Butha-Buthe hotel on 7 June this year.
The alleged victim, the charge-sheet further reads, was Sandawana’s patient.
Born in Mokhotlong, Sandawana is one of the very few inyangas who can afford to promote himself on radio for more than 30 minutes. The youthful healer claims he can use herbs to treat illnesses that resist modern medication and also facilitate communication between the living and their dead relatives to solve different problems.
Even more intriguing, Sandawana claims he can put a curse on those who would have contributed to the death of one’s loved ones so they would suffer for the rest of their lives.
Sandawana also says his muti can help desperate jobseekers secure employment, while also claiming to have “medicine” that guarantees all the luck in the world, including making people get super-rich.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times early this year, Sandawana said he was fortunate to secure employment in a South African gold mine in 2003, but was not lucky enough to keep the job after his supervisor expressed dissatisfaction with his work.
“I was moved around various sections at the mine because my bosses were not happy with my work. I was hurt by this treatment, which I thought was very unfair. It was then that I realised that I had a special gift because I was able to heal my pain,” Nkone said.
“I already had knowledge of herbs, which I had gained from my elders back home. I would bring the herbs from home and sell to my colleagues at the mine.”
Demand for his services, he added, got higher when he began to use his newly-discovered ability to heal with his hands.
“I touched people in the area where they would be feeling pain and some would say the pain had gone down or disappeared completely.”
Sandawana said he eventually found himself unable to reconcile expectations at his workplace and demands from his clients.
“In 2009, I decided to come back home to start the business in the land of my forefathers. I settled in Butha-Buthe where most of my clients were.”
Soon, word about Sandawana and his handiwork spread, he said.
“People started to come from as far as Qacha’s Nek and Thaba-Tseka. Some would specially invite me to their families for whatever service they wanted.”
As a result of the high demand, Sandawana says he had to open more stations in other districts.
“I work from all the stations on various days. I travel all over the country. I still get invitations from individuals who want to consult in the privacy of their homes. Some calls even come from as far as the Free State in South Africa.”