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Monday, 16 October, 2000, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
'Bewitched' SA minister flees office
South African map
A minister in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has abandoned her office for fear of being attacked by evil spirits.

Faith Gasa, appointed education and culture minister two months ago, believes an evil spell, or "muti", has been cast on her office.

She blames it on her sacked predecessor, and her staff whom she has branded "reptiles".

They are all going. By Monday I will have proper staff, not a bunch of reptiles

Faith Gasa
Mrs Gasa says she will return once the office has been repainted and the unholy curse removed.

Mrs Gasa, who has been away from office for three weeks, claims that her predecessor, Eileen KaNkosi Shandu, is gunning for her because she wants her job back.

But Ms Shandu - who was fired after being found guilty of nepotism - has denied accusations of tormenting her.

Road accidents

Mrs Gasa's husband, Professor Enoch Gasa, was quoted by the national Sunday Times newspaper saying his wife was terrified and would return only after the office had been refurbished.

"Even the premier [of KwaZulu-Natal province] knows there is something unholy in that office and he has ordered it to be repainted and refurbished," he said.

I don't know anything about muti. I am a Christian. I don't want evil to affect anyone

Eileen Shandu
Professor Gasa said his wife's two cars had been involved in accidents "and if she had been in them at the time she would have been dead".

The Sunday Times reported that it found the department's offices "in a state of chaos with most of the floor space cleared and desks stacked along walls. Documents lay in heaps on the floor".

Power struggle

Mrs Gasa has threatened to sack her staff accusing them of being loyal to her predecessor.

"They are all going. By Monday I will have proper staff, not a bunch of reptiles," she warned.

But Ms Shandu, who is also accused of being involved in a power struggle with the provincial premier, expressed regret that she was being accused of bewitching Mrs Gasa.

Ms Shandu said she had challenged her dismissal through the labour court but held no grudge against anyone.

"I don't know anything about muti. I am a Christian. I don't want evil to affect anyone," she said.

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