In southern Africa, when strange things happen, it’s often the tokoloshe who gets the blame. The tokoloshe is said to be a brown, hairy dwarf-like creature that likes to cause general mischief. Its activities are very poltergeist-like; throwing household objects and stones, pouring water and starting fires, all while remaining completely invisible.
For the Mapetla family in Botshabelo, Free State province, South Africa, the tokoloshe is no myth. Their disturbing experiences have been covered in the pages of the Daily Sun, a Johannesburg tabloid notorious for its lurid headlines (e.g. “Jealous Tokoloshe Pokes Me!”).
The story broke in late December 2017, when the couple told Sun reporter Matseko Ramotekoa that for the last two weeks they been terrorised by a tokoloshe that poured water on them, opened their refrigerator and threw their belongings out of their house.
The strange events had commenced when husband Tebello Mapetla (80) was resting under a tree. There was no wind, but the branches had started shaking and many leaves fell on him. Startled, he had rushed inside to tell his wife Makgotso and while they were talking, the tokoloshe had poured a bucket of water on them. The impudent imp had then started throwing potatoes, banged doors and pots and thrown stones onto their roof. The couple consulted a sangoma, a prophet, two spiritual healers and church members to no avail.
In January 2018 the family announced the phenomenon had taken an even more creepy turn – the tokoloshe had started to speak. Makgotso told the Sun said she and her husband had been asleep in their bedroom when they heard what sounded like the voice of a young boy. The voice announced itself as Sweetboy and said he had been sent to kill the old man. When Makgotso turned on the lights they couldn’t see anything, but the voice continued, telling them prayers or sangomas wouldn’t help them.
The Sun’s coverage of Sweetboy’s activities continued in March 2018, when the couple reported that their house lights, which had been going on and off for some time, had finally failed. A technician from supplier Centlec showed up to try and fix the fault and was attacked with a shoe. A few days later a Centlec photographer came to take pictures of their power box when he started screaming – he’d been assaulted by a flying coat hangar. A Centlec spokesman later confirmed to the Daily Sun that staff had been attacked by “an invisible thing” at the house.
Journalist Kabelo Tlhabanelo has prepared an exclusive update for The Fortean on the case. Kabelo told me he had observed the tokoloshe first-hand at the house, watching amazed as water “came from nowhere”, drenching a neighbour who was comforting the family.
Kabelo’s exclusive report follows:
“The family in Botshabelo in the Free State province in South Africa is living in fear. This is after they have been terrorized by something that no one can lay their eyes on. Many different traditional healers and pastors have come and try to help the family of Mapetla in J section. But after months of trying, no one has managed to chase away the mystery witchcraft that can pour a bucket of water on them. The evil creature also sometimes throws potatoes at the old couple that has strong faith and believing in God.
“We are Christians and have a strong believe that God Almighty will help us in these trying times. Our hope will never die and we will always stay here. This is our home. No matter if we are bewitched or not, God will continue to give us strength. This thing has been burning our belongings but it will never make us loose hope and faith in God. We pray day and night and the most important thing that God has been providing us with is life,” said 80-year-old man Tebello Mapetla.
But the mystery evil, invisible creature has also put fear in the neighbors as well. Some neighbours are also considering relocating after the mystery attacks on innocent people have been witnessed by the community.
“We just fear for our children. This thing can pour water at you when you pass the home of the old couple. We fear that it could leave us with bad lucks and I think I should relocate with my family,” said one neighbour who wished to remain anonymous.
Whether the creature becomes visible or not, the couple has shown that so far they are winning the fight because they vowed to stay in the troubled six room house till death do them part.”
The key elements of the Mapetla’s story are commonplace in the poltergeist literature. Objects thrown by unseen hands, stone pelting, mysterious fires, and even malevolent discarnate voices have all been reported in other countries and cultures.
Sweetboy the tokoloshe is really Sweetboy the poltergeist.