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The congestion and increased human and vehicular traffic in Harare is proving a boon for petty “tricksters” thieves who are fleecing shoppers and visitors to the Central Business District.

They use various tricks to steal despite efforts from law enforcers to shield citizens while the judiciary’s deterrent sentences could play a crucial role in protecting the people.

The city’s ‘Downtown’ has become a haven of thieves mesmerizing unsuspecting residents.

Amongst the thieves, pokers games such as Feja -Feja are also daily scenarios in the capital where people in Harare and bettors risk losing their hard earned money in anticipation of fast money.

Feja-feja, a gambling game allegedly associated with juju, whereby three playing cards comprising of two similar cards are laid on the ground in a deceiving manner after being shown to the crowd. The bettor is supposed to pick the dissimilar card after paying money which is doubled as prize.

The thieves operate in syndicates and some act as bait, betting and winning to hoodwink unsuspecting residents.

The syndicate is mobile in the streets of Harare where they are commoners.

Several people have fallen prey to such trickery.

Conmen have adopted the culture of Buya-tinapangana formerly used in mostly Indian shops to cheat unsuspecting people who prefer backdoor goods at negotiated price.

The thieves will disappear in disguise of going to collect the goods.

For the safety of the customers, several shops in the ‘dark’ area have an inscribed message, ‘We do not have outside salesperson’ (Hatina vatengesi vepanze) as a way of alerting the customers to purchase goods over the counter.

Chadonha is another archaic form of thieving being used in Harare to con people. Despite the introduction of plastic money which made carrying cash in form of notes a thing of the past. People are being tricked the same way grandparents were fooled.

In stage-managed style, the syndicate drops bundled papers with two notes on each end which unsuspecting people would believe to be real.

The person is told about the money and they strike a deal to share it.

Then the ‘prey’ is told to carry the cash to a secret location and share the money. Prior to sharing the money everyone is ordered to leave the valuables including money to one of the thieves who will then vanish.

A bogus policeman will appear before money is shared prompting the thieves to escape leaving a victim with a bundle of papers.

While Highlanders is a Bulawayo based football club but in the streets of Harare it satirically refers to a popular pickpocketing syndicate. One must check the surroundings and secure his pockets whenever the name is mentioned.

The group causes unnecessary congestion in the pavements, confusing people simultaneously targeting their pockets and luggage.

The group is usually identified by holding jackets anytime and are common around Gulf Complex and the flyover towards Mbare.

Street kids have departed from begging and are resorting to stealing using Huza (snatching).

The street kids will snatch valuables and food from passerby or remove one’s hat and run-away.

Kupinzwa Basa is one of the tricks used to steal in Harare whereby thieves pretend to be shop supervisors looking for part time employees.

As a case of unemployment in the country, people are desperate and easily deceived.

The prey is instructed to leave his or her valuables before entering the shop, upon surrendering the valuables the syndicate vanishes.

Harare’s Avenues area is famous for beautiful indigenous and exotic trees which are an attraction to passerby although some men are attracted to commercial sex workers

Men are falling prey to these thigh vendors who take advantage and raise the agreed fee after having sex. Threats of calling the popular H-Metro newspaper if a client resists to comply with their demands has become a fruit bearer for these ladies of the night.

Valuables such as cellphones, cash, and wrist watches are lost to thigh vendors if one fails pay.

The Sunshine City has become a haven of humans who have different missions to accomplish.


Simbarashe Musaki – Own Correspondent

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