HIV boosts love potion sales - sangomas
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Love potions are the fastest-growing business in traditional medicine in Cape Town. The idea is to slip the muti into the food of someone you fancy, and he or she will fall madly and unconditionally in love with you, or so the sangomas who sell the potions claim.
The potions are said to be so strong that people who take them will never cheat on their partners and will even forgive them if they in turn cheat on them.
"This is stronger than true love," said traditional healer Bhekumuzi "Zul'eliphezulu" Bulose. He said in normal love, a spouse who felt cheated would be furious. But if the husband or wife had taken the muti, they would still love the cheating partner.
"I can heal almost every ailment but most of my customers look for love herbs," he said.
He has been a full-time sangoma since the late 1970s and his house near the Site C taxi rank in Khayelitsha is inundated with people of both genders looking for love potions. It's the same with other healers in city townships.
A healer in the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa, who is popular for "tying men with their women", was so busy this week that her shack was packed whenever the Weekend Argus turned up.
Bulose said the love herbs used to be sought by married people but now most of his clients were single women who said they wanted to stick to one partner, mainly for fear of the HIV and Aids pandemic.
"They want to tie their lovers so they don't cheat and catch the disease out there," he said. Bulose, 54, has experienced love herbs himself and says they work.
Many of his customers kept it secret and their partners rarely found out. He said even if the partners were told by someone that they had been fed the muti, they would not believe it because they no longer thought logically.
A Khayelitsha woman who gave the potion to her boyfriend and who asked to remain anonymous, said she had turned to yokothwane, as the love portions are called, about nine years ago after three men who had each fathered a child with her left her to raise the children alone.
Realising that her fourth lover was about to follow suit, she consulted a healer who gave her a potion which she mixed with her saliva and put in his food.
"At first, quarrels between us intensified and I was told that was the indication that the love potion was settling.
"But after a few weeks quarrels ended, and for good," she said. The two have since married and her husband has helped to raise her children.
Bulose, whose clients are mainly black and coloured, would not give much detail about the love potions but said they worked differently. Some families put it in a dish for the bride during the welcoming ceremony. Others were used at any time, mainly by women between their late 20s and 50s.
Some of the potions, which cost R300, work for life while others need to be renewed every year.