By Harry Fisher|
A Now Daily Investigation|
Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has been implicated in a sex trafficking racket involving Zambians operating in Harare’s leafy suburbs.
Mnangagwa owns a lodge in Eastlea – along Peterborough Road – which caters only to Zambian ‘cross-border traders’ at heavily subsidised rates. On closer examination, however, it emerged that the women are high-class whores from Zambia operating within a secretive, closely-guarded syndicate. They scour Harare’s nightclubs -especially the Chez Ntemba – in search of clients and, when they meet a certain cash target, are allowed to go home.
“When I first came to Zimbabwe in 2012, there was plenty of cash in Harare and I could make $70 to $200 a day servicing different clients. After a month, I could go back to Zambia with $3 000 after ‘Mother’ deducted her share,” said a 24 year-old woman, who preferred to be called Thelma Banda, giggling that she never gave ‘clients’ her real name, which was embedded in a passport kept securely away from her by ‘Mother’, a matronly, middle-aged woman who runs the lodge as a no-questions-asked brothel for the rich.
Thelma said she was recruitted in a hair salon in Zambia by a man who first promised to find her a job in Harare, then dumped her at the Peterborough lodge without paying his bills.
Thelma confided that she could not escape the debt as ‘Mother’ had taken her passport upon arrival.
“‘Mother’ told me point blank that I had to sleep with men in order to raise money to pay what I owed and be allowed to go home. I was a virtual prisoner. She threatened to get me arrested or set thugs on me if I refused to sleep with the men whom she brought herself. I had never taken money for sex in my life and I felt so ashamed but I had to do it. After a while I started taking drugs and I got used to it. I broke up with my husband when he found out, so now I am a prostitute,” Banda said.
Mnangagwa could not be reached for comment on the goings on at the self-catering lodge usually teeming with attractive young women, girls and even men from different parts of Zambia. However, a knowledgeable source confirmed that the minister and powerful Zanu PF politburo member, reputed to be a potential successor to ageing president Robert Mugabe, owned the property.
“Mnangagwa lived in Zambia during the war and he still has relatives there. What is wrong with him doing something to help Zambians when they come to Zimbabwe?” the man said defensively.
He said passports were confiscated upon arrival in case the clients attempted to escape paying their bills. He, however, could not explain why the lodge catered only to Zambians.
The U. S. State Department has confirmed incidences of Zambians being lured into prostitution in Zimbabwe.
“Women and children from border communities in neighbouring countries are subjected to trafficking in Zimbabwe for exploitation in prostitution and forced labour, including domestic servitude. Zambian boys are subjected to prostitution in Zimbabwe,” says the U.S. State Department 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.
(c) 2014 Kingdom Television Africa.