Sex panners invade mines…as lockdown bites

After finding the going tough in the city, sex workers have devised a new way of survival as they have invaded mining areas in a bid to eke out a living as some of them were now failing to pay rent and even to buy food.

The life of sex workers took a nosedive in Bulawayo and other areas after the national lockdown to contain the coronavirus was imposed in March.

Initially, the thigh vendors devised a new method of survival as they got ‘customers’ through call-in clients at their homes. As the coronavirus cases surged their clientele in the city diminished tremendously.

In a bid to survive in these tough trying times sex workers have invaded mining areas in Silobela, Midlands province and in Inyathi, Matabeleland North where there are a number of artisanal miners or omakorokoza who are known for being free spenders.

The mining areas are frequented by a number of people who would be selling their products mostly in foreign currency therefore it makes it a fertile ground for their thigh vending business.

Speaking to B- Metro a sex worker from Bulawayo who only identified herself as Thando said she was now able to make ends meet.

“I’m from Bulawayo. I came here some weeks ago because life was tough as I couldn’t afford to buy food. At first when I arrived here I was selling drinks and confectionery as a cover-up. I would engage in sex work in the evening,” she said.

Without mincing her words Thando went on to say she was now in a better space where she could make up to US$10 a day.

“Although I cannot deny that sex work is very competitive here because we are many on a good day I can make between US$5 and US$10 . I charge US$1 or US$ 2 for a short session and US$15 or more for the entire night,” she said.

Due to the influx of sex workers in their area the locals fear the sex workers could infect them with coronavirus.

“Here in rural areas we were leading peaceful lives without fear of this Covid -19 but now we are in fear because we feel these women who come from other areas might infect us with the virus because their work involves body contact. Just imagine if one infects a makorokoza then the whole group of them would be infected consequently the whole community would be infected,” said Thulani Moyo(65).

Silobela legislator Mthokozisi Manoki Mpofu said: “We are worried about these women who have besieged our place because they could infect us with coronavirus. I will engage Chief Malisa to find a way forward.”

A sex worker from Gweru, Thabeth Mapimbiro, said there was easy money in the mining areas.

“There are a lot of mines here in Inyathi as a result omakorokoza always have money. They take you for booze after that they give you money for the entire night. This is unlike in Gweru or Bulawayo where one could hardly make US$5 a week,” said Cynthia Moyo.

Sihle Sibanda who plies her trade at Silobela echoed similar sentiments. However, she said competition was stiff.

“Due to stiff competition I use juju to attract clients. I can make about US$40 a week. This is cool money which even before lockdown I could not make,” she said.

A representative of the sex workers who operate under the banner Sex Panners, Nomathemba Moyo*, said: “We move from one place to another just like gold panners and our membership was at 54 in March. Now we are 65. Some of our members come from Gokwe, Nkayi, Kwekwe, Marondera, Chegutu. We invade any place where there is money. If the area becomes dry we shift to another area.”

District Administrator for Bubi Juma Dube who is also the chair person of the district Covid -19 taskforce expressed worry at the influx of sex workers in the area saying they had since engaged police.

“We are worried about people who come from other places because they will infect our community members with coronavirus. To curb that we have engaged police so as to arrest any person who is seen flouting Covid -19 regulations and seen walking after curfew,” said Dube.

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