I’ve been working on Strong Medicine for a long time. This novel is very close to my heart. The book is about a woman whose daughter is kidnapped by a witch doctor.
The story is told in from two different POVs, with epistolary chapters showing transcripts of interrogations of a convicted muthi murderer.
Here is a little excerpt of one of the interrogations, I hope you like it.
Transcript of Interview
Inmate Number: 7865649
13 September 2005
CMAX Prison, Pretoria
Detective Tshabalala (DT): Do you know a man called Sipho Mazibuko?
Bongani Zulu (BZ): I used to know someone with that name.
DT: He’s in prison down in Cape Town. He says he knows you. He says he can tell us things about you.
BZ: He’s lying.
DT: He doesn’t know you?
BZ: He can’t tell you anything about me that I haven’t told you.
DT: Is that true? I think you’re lying. I think that Mr. Mazibuko knows things about you that you don’t want us to know. You feeling hot? Shall we turn on the aircon?
BZ: Anything he tells you isn’t true.
DT: Well, why don’t you clear some details up for us then? Can you tell us about Goodness Mathale?
BZ: I don’t know who that is.
DT: She was a young girl who lived in Limpopo. She was murdered there in 1989. Mr. Mazibuko says he knew you then, that you were both living in the same village as Goodness, and that you were involved in her murder.
BZ: I wasn’t living in Limpopo then. I was in KwaZulu.
DT: Are you sure about that?
BZ: Yes. You can ask my cousin. I was living with him.
DT: We will do that. In the meantime, will you have a look at these photos and see if they jog your memory?
BZ: I don’t need to look at that. Why would you show me things like that?
DT: Does this make you uncomfortable? It makes me sick. I can’t stand looking at the damage done to this little body. Her lips are gone, you almost can’t see through the blood. Look, here at her fingerti—
BZ: I don’t need to look! I don’t need to! Fuck you! Take this away.
DT: I find it hard to believe, Bongani, that you would react like that to these photos if you weren’t involved in this murder.
BZ: Fuck you. I had nothing to do with it. I wasn’t involved.
DT: Do you know who was?
BZ: It was the child minder.
DT: Ah, so you do know what happened.
BZ: I was there. In the village. The aunty left the girl with the child minder. She took the girl down to the river to wash. Then she said the river took the girl, she couldn’t swim. We searched for her and found her body two days later. Like that photo.
DT: Mr. Mazibuko has a different story. He says that the child minder worked for you, that she waited for Goodness’s mother to go to work then she brought the child to the river. You were waiting there and you hit the girl on the head with a rock to make her weak. There, you see that wound on the skull? That’s blunt force trauma. Like from a rock.
He says after you did that, you cut here, here to remove her genitals. Then here for the fingers. And the lips.
BZ: He’s lying. He made it up when he saw the photo.
DT: We never showed him the photo.