News / How Ivan Semwanga Accumulated Riches in South Africa

by : Solomon Businge
Dr Jose Chameleone Ivan showing off his watch recently

The Late Ivan Semwanga was a man of mystery. His spending habits were so eyebrow-raising that many people wondered how he managed to accumulate such a fortune, remedy moreover in a foreign land.

Having established his decent and how he got to South Africa in our previous publications, we now look at how Ivan managed to join efforts with friends, to the rich man he died.

He stepped foot in S.A in the early 2000s, with the help of his friend Muwonge. His trip however, as earlier reported, wasn’t smooth. He was arrested at the Zambia border but still managed to walk his way out.

When Ivan reached South Africa, he was rather impressed by the antics his friend’s boss “Kabwa Kaganda’ used to earn loads of money from the then unsuspecting South Africans.

Curious and broke by then, Ivan was also recruited by this Ugandan traditional healer, who allegedly, used antics to fleece South Africans of their cash by offering black magic services.

Long story short, Ivan managed to establish himself at the shrine but wasn’t contented with his earnings.

He and a friend that our sources couldn’t recall broke away from Kabwa Kaganda and established his own shrine in Pretoria.

At this point, nothing like “Ivan Semwanga” would earn him a penny. He christened himself Dr. shaba wa Shaba.

Using the same tricks, Ivan managed to establish himself as a traditional healer, earned some cash and managed to buy his first ever car, a White BMW Dolphin, model 3251.

After gaining popularity and trust among the natives, Ivan also opened several branches across South Africa and took on his traditional healing services.

It was from this point that he and his friends were nicknamed “Sangomas”, meaning a traditional healer.

His popularity by then had spread far and beyond, faster than ever anticipated. Ivan even stopped attending to clients he considered riffraff.

He owned several cars. He was spending cash from his sweat with much gusto, yet business was still getting better.

One lucky day in 2004, Thabo Mbeki’s in-law visited Ivan’s shrine. She was epileptic and wanted Ivan’s help for this ailment. After consulting with several of his Ugandan associates, she became well.

Luckily for Ivan, she later recommended her niece (Mbeki’s wife)  who had issues with her sexual health to Ivan. When he got this high profile client, Ivan dashed to Uganda, hired a herbalist from Jinja, sneaked him into South Africa and offered to pay a reported fee of over shs1m per month. When Mbeki’s wife got well, Ivan received many referrals, building a client base managed to maintain. When the quality of his clientele improved, Ivan got more organized, started advertising extensively, on top of increasing his consultation charges. He also broadened his business base by importing cars and later set up a driving school at the premises of Shaba Wa Shaba shrine.

Considering the nature of business, Ivan started distancing himself from the trade, and ventured into schools. That’s when he opened Brooklyn City College and a chain of others.

Before passing on, Ivan was a darling, not only in Uganda but in South Africa as well. Locals loved him for his generosity and charitable works every weekend.

It’s no wonder his Vigil in S.A was attended by throngs of mourners.

Watch out for our next publication.