Kaunda Selisho
Lifestyle Journalist
3 minute read
13 Nov 2020
10:06 am

Why is SA obsessed with snakes at the moment?

Kaunda Selisho

Jackie Phamotse popularised the topic of snakes and witchcraft by trying to explain the concepts of 'uMamlambo' and 'ukuthwala' for wealth.

DJ Fresh. Picture: Instagram

Snakes seemed to be all the rage in South Africa this week but the origin of this conversation has remained a mystery to many.

Why is everyone talking about snakes?

Although the conversion was not new, it has found a new lease on life thanks to author and self-proclaimed activist, Jackie Phamotse.

Phamotse set social media alight this past week when she decided that religious cults and blood rituals were the newfound focus of her interest. She took up the mantle as an expert of sorts on the matter and shared her alleged knowledge about these and other topics via an Instagram Live stream.


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This soon sparked a conversation about why black wealth always has to be associated with the occult.

Phamotse was not the first person to put this topic under the spotlight.

Some years ago, SABC 1 soapie Generations made the concept of ukuthwala part of the storyline of character Tshidi Phakade (played by Letoya Makhene) by introducing her to Mamlambo (snake).

What is uMamlambo?

The uMamlambo is a water deity in South African mythology that is believed to be the goddess of rivers. Those who claim to have seen it have described it as a large snake-like creature.

A young spiritualist South African who spoke to The Citizen about the concept of uMamlambo on condition of anonymity explained that it was essentially a deity you worship and sacrifice things to (as part of ukuthwala) in order to attain money and power.

Entertainer Zodwa Wabantu also joked about having uMamlambo earlier this year.

The demands of the deity in exchange for these things could range from things like human sacrifices to a promise to never have children.

Back for discussion

According to the source, failure to comply with the demands of the uMamlambo could lead to dire consequences. In some cases, children could even inherit their parents’ servitude of uMamlambo.

Phamotse touched on these consequences in her video, warning young women engaged in transactional sex against getting entangled in such matters.

Coincidentally, Ferguson Films bosses Connie and Shona Ferguson dropped the trailer for their upcoming Netflix project titled Kings Of Joburg this past week, shortly after the Jackie Phamotse controversy began.

The trailer, which started out like any other crime drama, soon took an occult turn when it looked like Shona Ferguson’s character was turning into some sort of human-snake hybrid.

This left many wondering if Phamotse had been hired by the production company to stir up the controversy as a means to promote the project.

While this suspicion has yet to be proven or dismissed, snakes truly captured the imagination of many a South African.

Influencer Kefilwe Mabote and radio host DJ Fresh both poked fun at Phamotse’s claims, as did many others.

DJ Fresh pokes fun at the topic of snakes | Picture: Instagram

Kefilwe Mabote pokes fun at the topic of snakes | Picture: Instagram

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