It is very important for our community to be aware of these so called Priests and Gurus who claim to have the powers to heal your lives of Black Magic.
Of course this practice of Witchcraft is not something new for our community because it has existed for some time due to ignorance and lack of education.
We have had these opportunists making their way into New Zealand for decades who have taken advantage of the innocent and vulnerability of people by offering guarantees and claiming that they have powers to remove evil that is impacting negatively on their lives, be it family, business, work, love, marriage, children, court case, sexual, enemy, husband-wife relationship, health, depression, jealously, job, lucky numbers, visa problems, education, lucky stones, can solve any problems- the list goes on.
The number of people calling themselves Priests and Gurus seems to have tripled in recent years. They used to be of older age group but with each successive year they seem to be getting younger and younger.
More disturbing pattern was starting to emerge within our community in that some of our established Indian local businesses were knowingly supporting these fraudsters and were also benefiting financially by subletting and renting their business premises.
Why? For their personal gains.
What is even more disturbing is that the role that the media has played in giving these fraudsters a platform to advertise their services and exploit the vulnerability of the community at large.
Is the role of the media to expose injustice or support it?
In addition to the advertisements appearing in the media, young women in Otahuhu, Manurewa and Papatoetoe in South Auckland seemed to be approaching the public with flyers promoting the service of these fraudsters.
Printed flyers were dropped in the letter boxes of Indian people’s residences.
The operation by these fraudsters was planned and carried out well.
Annoyed by a plethora of advertisements appearing on Apna 990 TV and the rising number of people scammed by these Gurus, I was asked to do something about this to raise awareness to protect the community from these fraudsters.
I phoned Karen Rutherford of TV3 and agreed to go undercover for the channel to expose these fraudsters. As a consequence of the investigation, the community came forward and started providing names and addresses of these fraudsters. Some members of the community were victims of these fraudsters and had suffered huge financial losses.
Due to the seriousness of this matter, I called for a meeting of community leaders on August 1, 2015, All Indian media were invited to attend the meeting but only one of them (Radio Tarana) attended.
The agenda of the meeting was to address community concerns around these fraudsters to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.
Immigration New Zealand Assistant General Manager Peter Devoy confirmed that the information provided by TV3 led to the identification of a further so-called witchdoctor whose most recent address was in South Auckland.
“INZ has now identified nine witchdoctors. Five of them have since left New Zealand. The four who remain in New Zealand and hold visitor visas appear to be in breach of the conditions of their visas and appear to be liable for deportation. The individuals have been asked to respond to INZ’s concerns before taking action,” he said.
Mr Devoy said that INZ encouraged people not to be taken in by anyone offering these types of services.
“INZ is grateful for the information it has received on this issue to date. We would encourage anyone else with information on individuals involved in this type of activity to contact our Contact Centre on 0508-558855 or make an anonymous complaint via Crime Stoppers on 0800-555111,” he said.
Ms Rutherford sent me the following email on August 10, 2015:
“INZ contacted me the other day to say that 20 people have either been deported or left the country as a result of the investigation.”
Pratima Nand is a community leader, social worker based in Mt Roskill, Auckland. Her initiative to bring to light fraudsters who posed themselves as Astrologers and Witchdoctors has won the appreciation of the community and the mainstream and ethnic media. Indian Newslink will publish an editorial in consultation with other sister organisations in the media industry in due course.
A sting operation saw the end of defrauding astrologers