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Anthropological studies generally interpret discourses about witches and zombies in sub-Saharan Africa as critical commentary on the emergence of new forms of wealth, the commodification of labour, and the crisis of reproduction. Drawing on data collected in the Bushbuckridge area of the South African lowveld, I point to the limitations of these arguments and suggest that we can more fully capture the diverse and contradictory meanings of witches and zombies by separating discourses from actual accusations and from subjective realities. Whilst generic discourses highlight the use of zombies as a means of accumulating wealth, those accused of witchcraft are nearly always subordinate and impoverished persons who allegedly keep zombies as a means of survival. At the same time, these beliefs are connected to powerful psychological motivations, such as emotionally overwhelming experiences of bereavement, loss, and mourning. I suggest that witches and zombies derive their broad appeal from indeterminacy that defies interpretive control and constantly allows for alternative interpretations.