Fake prophet manipulates Wits student into giving him three laptops and flees the scene

A Wits University student lost three laptops after she was scammed by a man who claimed to be a prophet in Braamfontein on Monday, February 25.

Boipelo Sekome, a third-year Bachelor of Education student, told Wits Vuvuzela that she was on her way to visit a friend at 10am when she was approached by a man in Juta Street. The man asked for directions to “Peterson Street” and Sekome said she did not know the street.

According to the 19-year-old, the man asked another passer-by for the directions, but he also did not know “Peterson Street”.

Then the first man started addressing Sekome and the passer-by (we’ll call him *Tumisho) in SePedi saying there were things he couldn’t completely disclose involving pregnancy, but that he was carrying money he needed to take to people at the address he was looking for.

Tumisho then suggested that they discuss such “spiritual matters” in a private space, “that he can’t tell us these things in a public place like Braam, anything can happen… so he suggested that we go to his cousin’s car, a silver VW Polo, which was parked right opposite the coffee shop we were in front of,” Sekome said.

In hindsight, Sekome realised that the “prophet”, Tumisho and the “cousin” were partners in an elaborate scam. That was only after she had been persuaded to go back to SouthPoint Blackburn and bring three laptops, so that the prophet could pray for Sekome, her mother and her grandmother because “my mom’s and grandmother’s lives were in danger and it was up to me to save them”.

The men – aged around 30 – disappeared with Sekome’s laptop and those of her friends while she was inside Pick n Pay, where they had dropped her off to buy a bottle of water she had been told would be prayed over and turned holy so it could protect her from evil.

She realised she had been scammed only after waiting for an hour-and-half for the men to return. “I don’t think I have internalised the realities of living in South Africa,” the Soshanguve-born Sekome told Wits Vuvuzela. “I am too trusting.”

Sekome also had to deal with her friends whose laptops she had borrowed under false pretences. Her father has told her she will have to forgo most of her allowance for the rest of the year, as he will deduct the cost of replacing the friends’ two laptops.

Spokesperson for the Hillbrow Police Station, Mduduzi Zondo, confirmed that Sekome had opened a case of fraud. “The case is under investigation and there have not been any arrests yet. We certainly depend on her to recognise and identify the suspects in order for the case to be cracked.”

FEATURED IMAGE: Fake prophet scams student of three laptops in the streets of Braamfontein. Photo: Chante Schatz