Now Daily Investigation
Forget about the stock market, the money market or the black market. The quickest way to a million dollars has just been discovered by Harare maids: sleep with the boss.
Ever since Haggar the maid took her madam’s Sarah’s husband Abraham in the Bible, this method to a quick fortune has been despised. Not anymore. Many of the maids are targeting men with the means, especially those whose wives are working, are in the diaspora or busy executives who go to work and spend lengthy periods away from home.
Chinese, Jewish, Nigerian and other foreign bosses are a major target for the cheating maids. The Chinese are a favourite because many are under strict instructions from their authorities not to marry in Africa or not to get involved with the locals. So they will pay anything to keep their illicit affairs secret.
Ability, from Chitungwiza, first met Cheung when she went to work as a maid at Borrowdale Brooke, a favourite haunt of Chinese wheeler dealers.
“At first Cheung abused me. He started by pinching my buttocks when his wife and kids were away and there were only two of us in the house. When I complained, he gave me money and told me not to report to anyone,” Ability said.
The harassment continued for a long time, increasing in degree each time Ability came into the house to work. One day her boss drugged her.
“When I woke up I found myself half-naked in his bed. I wanted to scream but I knew it was useless. It was late at night and no one would believe the story that I had been raped. He threatened to kill me if I told anyone what had happened,” Ability said.
After a while, Ability discovered she was pregnant. After she gave birth, Cheung set her up in business. Ability runs an electrical shop in central Harare, with Cheung sourcing the merchandise for her from China and South Africa.
“Cheung told me that he could never marry me because his wife would never allow it. She must not even know about his child with me. I’m living a secret life,” Ability said.
It usually starts with small things, as Phyllis discovered. By simply telling on her boss, who also happened to be her sister, Phyllis now lives in the fast lane which she did not imagine just a few years ago. She was sent by her mother from the rural areas to live with her sister after she gave birth and fell ill. Phyllis first had sex with her brother-in-law while her sister was lying helpless in hospital. That was after she told him all about her sister’s false ‘business trips’ while she went gallivanting with her boyfriend.
“My sister was a businesswoman. She used to travel to Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa to get stocks for her shop. While she was away, her husband would bring other women to the house. At first I used to report him to my sister. But when he started also having sex with me I could not tell my sister anything,” Phyllis said.
The cheating went on until Phyllis became pregnant and relatives told her sister about it. She was thrown out of the sister’s house after a thorough beating. Her brother-in-law, who was already referred to as her ‘husband’ by relatives gave her $140 000 as a parting shot. She bought a house for $100 000 and spent the rest furnishing her house. Now, she vends expensive labels at Sam Levy’s from the boot of a car, her days as a maid nearly forgotten, the only reminder being the child.
NOT A BED OF ROSES
While an unknown number of maids get away with sleeping with their bosses, for many who get caught, the consequences can be devastating. Stanford committed suicide after his wife who works as a teacher in the United Kingdom discovered his cheating game.
Nomatter was one of the first few teachers to go to UK before the situation unravelled in 2008. She sent Stanford money which he used to buy a house in Ashdown Park. Since Stanford was looking after their three children, including a pre-schooler, Nomatter decided her husband should find a trustworthy maid. Her sister even brought a young school dropout from the rural areas in the hope that Stanford would not find her attractive.
Several years down the line, Stanford and Nomatter’s marriage became strained. Years of living apart after Stanford was denied a British visa to visit his wife began to take their toll. Stories reached him that his wife was cheating with a British colleague, but he could never prove it. Stanford abandoned his faith and gave up his post as a deacon in the church. Then he started hitting it off with several women before he settled for the maid.
Nomatter was told what was going on by relatives. When one of the children found a school place in UK and joined her mother, she spilled the beans, giving details of Stanford’s illicit affair with the maid. Nomatter confronted her husband about it. He confessed. The maid was fired. Then Nomatter started asking for a divorce. Stanford committed suicide by shooting himself.
As for Talent, her missing front teeth tell the grim story. After going out with her boss for many years, her husband became suspicious. Although it was an unwritten rule that he never touched her phone, one day he had the guts to scroll through her WhatsApp messages. What he discovered horrified him. She had been sending nude selfies to her boss for a long time, along with explicit messages. The husband was furious and knocked the teeth out of Talent’s mouth in a fit of rage. Afterwards they separated, but the incident had terrified her boss who decided to end the affair. He gave her a car and some money after she threatened to go public with her story. But her missing teeth are a grim reminder to other maids that cheating with the boss can be dangerous.
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