Some enterprising ladies of the night are now involved in a new breed of prostitution that has seen them travelling from city to city and stopping for business in every lucrative major red-light district, Sunday News reported.
Every night these inventive prostitutes will be in a different city or town. Most of them prefer the Bulawayo to Harare route as it is the most lucrative. However, to avoid overpopulating the Bulawayo-Harare route the prostitutes have purposely picked different routes to ply their trade. Some use the Bulawayo-Beitbridge route, others the Bulawayo-Masvingo way and the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road.
Sunday News found out that the sex-on-wheels type of prostitution was initiated by sex workers resident in Harare and Bulawayo but now ladies of the night from other towns and cities have joined the trade and are on the prowl for sex-starved customers who are more than willing to part with their hard-earned cash.
Investigations in Bulawayo and Gweru revealed that inter-city transit prostitution was gaining popularity among prostitutes as it was proving more profitable than intra-city prostitution, which gives prostitutes access to a limited number of clients.
Inter-city sex workers who consented to being interviewed after being paid said that they were making a killing as they made about $50 a day, which adds to about $250 on a five-day working period that then translates to about $1 000 a month.
“We do not like what we do but even you will admit that we (transit prostitutes) earn more than common prostitutes, in fact more than most people in Zimbabwe. The problem is most of us are wasteful as they squander their money on alcohol, drugs and clothes. But some like me have bought furniture and other things that can make you green with envy,” said a prostitute in Gweru called Melody who opened up after drinking a few.
Some of the sexually indiscriminate girls disclosed that they had established rendezvous (names of the hotels and motels supplied) in each city and town, where they offer sex services ranging from clean sex to outright dirty, depending on the money on offer from their clients.
Some have moved a gear up by joining hands to lease houses, which they turn into brothels, in the most profitable towns. The most favoured places where houses are rented are Gweru and Kadoma, mostly in the Mkoba high-density suburbs and in the low-cost suburb of Rimuka respectively.
“We use the houses between Sunday and Thursday to service local clients. Friday and Saturday some of us travel to Harare while others go to Bulawayo to look for customers as the two cities usually come alive on Friday and Saturday nights,” said a girl who identified herself as Samantha.
In Gweru, Sunday News went to Salaco City, a nightclub deep in the high density suburb of Mutapa. Salaco City is a dingy nightclub mostly frequented by dirty and washed out prostitutes who are poorly dressed. Investigations and interviews revealed that the prostitutes use houses near the nightclub as havens where they entertain clients.
A prostitute who said her name was Tabitha revealed that she moved between Gweru and Kwekwe looking for clients.
“My husband and I separated three months ago and since then I have been a prostitute because I have no other option but to feed myself and my child. I usually look for customers in town but today I am here in Mutapa because one of my most generous clients called me. On Friday and Saturday I look for clients in Kwekwe because I want to be closer to my daughter,” she said.
In the city centre of Gweru the most popular red light district is Uptown, where there is a nightclub aptly named Club Uptown. At around 10pm outside Club Uptown prostitutes waited patiently for clients, most leaning on walls, idly sitting on chairs and buckets and the rest restlessly moving up and down.
A prostitute who refused to be named said that their business considerably improved deep in the night as most clients came to the nightclub looking for prostitutes around midnight. Her words proved to be prophetic as clients started trooping in at the said time.
Sunday News watched with keen interest as clients approached prostitutes. After negotiating and agreeing clients and their “catch” were seen getting into taxis that were parked outside the nightclub and nearby areas. Further surveillance and investigations revealed that the taxis drove to secluded places just outside the city centre where the drivers would get out of their cars and leave the prostitutes and their clients to have “short-time” sex.
The prostitutes charge $10 for a “short time” and they share the $10 with the drivers pocketing $3 for every transaction. The taxi drivers do not entertain people who will be seeking transport to go home as they claim they make more money by working with the prostitutes than by doing an honest job.
This reporter was flatly turned down by three drivers when he asked to be taken to Mkoba suburb.
There are also procurers popularly known as pimps who find prostitutes for clients and clients for prostitutes. The pimps who will be standing outside the nightclub approach every man who comes near the nightclub or is passing by, offering to provide prostitutes.
The pimps are paid a $1 for every client by the prostitutes.
Cynthia, a prostitute from Bulawayo, said on a good day she makes $70 from “short times”.
“I am coming from Harare, yesterday I was in Kwekwe and the day before that in Kadoma. I always make sure that when I am coming from Harare I stop over in Gweru on Thursday or Friday because that is when there is money. I can service up to 10 people and make a lot of money from it. When it’s month end I only do short times because they are more profitable, last week but one I made $70 from short times.
“I am not yet decided whether to go to Bulawayo tomorrow or on Saturday but my decision will depend on the money I make tonight. If I make a lot of money then I will stay another night but if things don’t go according to plan then in the morning I will travel to Bulawayo. I make a lot of money in Bulawayo and Harare but Gweru has its days,” she said.
Cynthia said her rest days were Sunday and Monday.
She said: “I don’t work on Sunday and Monday because there will be no money. I can’t go out and return home with $10, that amount is too small. So I rather rest, play with my children and see relatives and friends.”
Another prostitute who seemed to be out of luck said she had stopped over in Gweru to raise money to go to Harare.
“On Friday and Saturday and at times on Thursday I make sure I am in Harare because that is where the money is. Men in Harare are not stingy like men in Bulawayo. In Bulawayo a short time is $5, in Harare it’s $10 and an all-night ranges from $30 to $50, in Bulawayo it’s only $20.
“Originally I am from Bulawayo but I moved to Harare when I got married in 2010. I had no choice but to be a prostitute after my husband was arrested for stealing. He was sentenced to seven years in jail so I have no choice but to be a prostitute because I have no one to support me and my children,” she said.
Another prostitute named Charity from Chegutu said that she does not have a semi-permanent place as she prefers to be on the road almost every day of the week.
“Personally I don’t believe that Harare and Bulawayo have more money than Gweru or Kwekwe so I go where I feel like going and I don’t believe that a certain town has more money on a particular day. I believe it is down to how I market myself. That is why I make most of my stops in Gweru, Kwekwe, Kadoma and Norton. I go to Harare and Bulawayo but if I don’t go it’s not a big deal,” said Charity who disclosed that she did not work in Chegutu because it is her home town.
A lawyer Mr Thomas Sibanda said prostitution was illegal in Zimbabwe and revealed that those found guilty of prostitution could be fined or jailed.
“Prostitution is addressed in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Part Three on Sexual Crimes and Crimes against Morality. In section 61, prostitute and prostitution are defined as follows: prostitute means a male or female person who for money or reward (a) allows other persons to have anal or extra-marital sex or engage in other sexual conduct with him or her; or (b) solicits other persons to have anal or extra-marital sex or engage in other sexual conduct with him or her.
“The constitution goes on to say that any person who publicly solicits another person for the purposes of prostitution shall be guilty of soliciting and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or both. But it’s not only the prostitutes and clients who face arrest even the taxi drivers and brothel owners do because they facilitate prostitution. Section 82 I think under Division E states that any person who keeps a brothel or provides a place where prostitution can take place is liable to a fine not exceeding level seven or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both,” Mr Sibanda said.
In the constitution crimes relating to prostitution or the facilitation of sexual crimes in Division E are dealt with in sections 81, 82 and 83.
Section 81 is on solicitation and it says: Any person who publicly solicits another person for the purposes of prostitution shall be guilty of soliciting and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or both.”
Section 82 deals with living or facilitating prostitution and it states that: “Any person who – (a) keeps a brothel; or (b) demands from a prostitute any payment or reward in consideration of the person – (i) keeping, managing or assisting in the keeping of a brothel in which the prostitute is, or has been, living for immoral purposes; or (ii) having solicited other persons for immoral purposes on behalf of the prostitute; or (iii) having effected the prostitute’s entry into a brothel for the purpose of prostitution; or (iv) having brought or assisted in bringing the prostitute into Zimbabwe for immoral purposes; or (c) demands from a prostitute any payment or reward in consideration for any present or past immoral connection with the prostitute; shall be guilty of living off or facilitating prostitution and liable to a fine not exceeding level seven or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both.
Section 83 looks at procuring prostitution and it declares that: “Any person who procures any other person – (a) for the purposes of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with another person or with persons generally, whether inside or outside Zimbabwe; or (b) to become a prostitute, whether inside or outside Zimbabwe; or (c) to leave Zimbabwe with the intent that the other person may become a prostitute; or (d) to leave his or her usual place of residence, not being a brothel, with the intent that he or she may become an inmate of or frequent a brothel elsewhere; shall be guilty of procuring and liable to a fine up to or exceeding level fourteen or – (i) in a case where the person procured is a young person, imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or both such fine and imprisonment; (ii) in any other case, imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years, or both such fine and imprisonment.