THEY CALL him Devil – but he is no devil. He is just a sangoma who lives in a house full of snakes. I’M JUST OBEYING THE ANCESTORS, HE SAID.
But Sipho “Devil” Khumalo’s love of snakes goes a long way beyond simple instructions from the ancestors.
Devil, a snake whisperer, lives happily with four big pythons, six vipers, two boas and two baby pythons.
The SunTeam managed to track the sangoma down to his house in Emndeni, Soweto after pictures started circulating on social media.
He said his love started when his calling demanded that he go to the river to find a snake.
“I started having bad dreams about snakes hunting for my head. When I consulted the elders they told me I needed to live with snakes.
“I love my snakes and I treat them like my children. I respect them like my ancestors.”
Devil feeds his three pythons on chickens. He feeds rabbits to his albino python. The smaller snakes eat mice. He said he is a qualified snake handler as he took a course after the community reported him to the SPCA.
“The judge was not harsh on me because I explained that my ancestors demanded that I live with them.”
Devil said the snakes were currently hibernating and he couldn’t take them outside the house. The four pythons are kept in a big cage covered with two blankets and an oil heater underneath to keep them warm.
“The snakes haven’t eaten anything since they started hibernating two months ago.”
They can be very dangerous when they are hungry. I give the snakes two live chickens each and they stay full for over a month.”
Devil said he gives the snakes live chickens so they feel like they are hunting.
“Also it makes it difficult if anybody wants to poison my snakes.”
“He said the snakes protect him from thieves.
“People in my neighbourhood know better than to steal from me. I know no one dares enter my house without my permission.
“But I have a good relationship with my neighbours. The children come and ask me to release the snakes so they can play with them.”