Johannesburg 310809 Museum of Man & Science ,one of the more unusuall shops in the Johannebsurg CBD. photo : nel baynes

Religious and cultural beliefs are some of the most emotive issues around, blamed as sources of conflict and even wars, but the increasing use of muti among Premier Soccer League clubs can no longer be overlooked.

In recent weeks several PSL teams have been caught red-handed sprinkling muti on the pitch before kickoff by television crews, and while this practice is as ancient as some religions, questions have to be raised about its efficacy.

For an example, teams recently caught out did not necessarily emerge victorious, which makes you wonder what was the point of spraying all that dodgy substance on the field.

Last month in the opening round of the Nedbank Cup, lower-league team Vardos, based in Tembisa, were accused of attempting to plant their sangoma in the dressing room of the opposition, United FC. The sangoma was apparently caught and prevented from entering the dressing room. Vardos lost 3-1.

Many other weird stories have been related, including one I heard recently about one of the Soweto giants positioning 24-hour security guards at their dressing room at FNB Stadium a fortnight before last month’s derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

It is said that the strict security people, who worked rotating shifts, would not allow even cleaners into the dressing room. Presumably, the belief at this club was that, if their dressing room were to be left unguarded even for a moment, their rivals would send in their sangomas to bewitch them.

There’s also that most laughable of stories involving Bafana Bafana, where it is claimed some KwaZulu-Natal-based sangoma is the main reason why the national side have been on a freefall.

This sangoma, it is alleged, “helped” Bafana win their final World Cup 2010 fixture against France, and he “charged” R100 000 for his “services”. The SA Football Association apparently paid him only R10 000, and he has vowed Bafana won’t win until the balance due to him has been fully paid.

The said sangoma also apparently appeared on television declaring that he has a “sealed plastic bottle” which contains Bafana’s goals. He would open it when paid and goals would flow for Pitso Mosimane’s side. This is the biggest load of nonsense I’ve ever heard.

To start with, Bafana faced France in June 2010 when unprecedented anarchy was brewing inside the Les Bleus camp, with senior players refusing to train following coach Raymond Domenech’s decision to send Nicolas Anelka home. Had Bafana failed to beat France on that afternoon in Bloemfontein, they might as well have ceased to exist.

A bigger victory might have sent SA into the second round, but my recollection of that game is that we struck the woodwork twice, which brings into doubt the efficacy of our “miracle worker,” the sangoma. If he were any good, would we not have won by the required margin?

Subsequent to the France game, Bafana played several other games, including African Nations Cup qualifiers – and guess what, they scored goals. Nobody spoke of a “sealed plastic bottle” needing to be opened! The reality is that Bafana failed to qualify for the Nations Cup because authorities at Safa House and the general public – including almost all media – did not read the Caf rules.

It is nonsensical to ventilate a belief that the national team’s goals are “held” by some sangoma, just as it is absurd for any Premiership team to think they would win simply by sprinkling some black substance or water on to the pitch. If these things were efficient, an African country would long have won the World Cup.

Using muti with the belief that it would bring victory, to me, is no different from falling for the promises of those fraudsters who hand out posters at almost every Joburg intersection, declaring, among other fallacies: “we can bring your lost lover back,”, “we’ll make you win the lotto,” or most ludicrous of all, “see your partner in the mirror with the person she/he cheats with”. What rubbish!

*Follow Matshe on Twitter @Nkareng