Imagine that you are going about your business at the Fife Avenue Shopping Centre and a skimpily dressed lady who you have never met before walks up to you and starts demanding payment for s3xual services “rendered”.
With the natural reaction being confusion on your part, the lady who obviously appears to be a hooker, threatens to make a scene if you don’t give her a dollar.
In most cases you are forced to pay up to avoid the embarrassment, otherwise, good luck trying to prove your innocence and going toe-to-toe in an augment with a cold-hearted lady of the night.
Such is the harassment that unsuspecting men are now being subjected to in the notorious Avenues area where there has been a tremendous rise in prostitution activities since the Constitutional Court outlawed the arrest of women on charges of loitering or soliciting for s3x.
While the issue of commercial s3x workers who extort money from their clients has become a trend, these women seem to be stepping up their game as they are now targeting innocent men who happen to pass through their radar.
A targeted individual is approached with random accusations and is told to pay up a certain amount or endure the dramatic chaos that is bound to follow. In some instances these ladies hunt in packs so that if the victim tries to react, they gang up on him and cause even more drama.
As a journalist, I have encountered several individuals who have fallen victim to these pocket predators but I did not for a second think one day I would be a victim.
I was on my way home coming from the gym last Monday when I decided to pass through OK Fife Avenue to grab a couple of things. Had I been a prophet, I would have headed straight home. Little did I know that I would encounter one of the most embarrassing episodes of my life on this day.
As I was pushing my trolley heading for the tills, three girls who looked to be barely 18 approached and one of them greeted me as if we had met before.
While I was still trying to figure out what these girls wanted, the one who had greeted me started accusing me of running away without paying for the s3xual services she had rendered to me in my car near Parirenyatwa some time ago. Mind you, I don’t even drive.
I was shocked because I had never seen any of these girls before and when I tried to explain that she was mistaking me for someone else, she blocked my path and highlighted that she was about to raise her voice and cause a scene if I continued denying any knowledge of what she was saying.
As I was still trying to come to grips with what was happening, the girl then demanded that I give her a dollar if I did not want to suffer any embarrassment.
At first I thought that it was a mere joke but then I realised that these people were serious and since I did not want to draw any attention I complied and told them that I would give them the dollar but only after I had paid for my groceries because I didn’t have loose (excuse the pun) money.
They agreed and all this while I was thinking that I could take the matter to the security guard but it dawned on me that if these characters were to cause a scene, the guard would just tell us to take it outside and I would even suffer more embarrassment so I decided to just pay, it was a dollar anyway.
One of the girls even asked if she could add a bottle of water on my tab and when I tried to ignore her, the one who was making accusations and seemed to be the gang leader insisted that I comply.
I was now regaining a bit of composure and my frustration was reaching boiling point and despite the fact that I could have easily overpowered the three of them in a physical confrontation, taking that route would have simply made things worse.
I even tried to call one of my cousins who stays nearby hoping that he would come and help me deal with the situation but apparently his phone was not reachable. At this point, one of the girls panicked but the group leader highlighted that even if I called someone she did not care, all she wanted was the dollar I was about to give her.
Although I tried to make as little conversation as possible this girl continued reiterating that she was not mistaken and that it was me she had hooked up with and this caused some of the people who were nearby to start staring.
While we were standing in the queue by the till, a journalist from a local newspaper who I happen to know walked in and I went to talk to him. As I narrated my ordeal, he advised me to show him my tormentors but when I turned around they had vanished.
Apparently they had recognised him as it turned out they realised that they might just end up in the newspaper which is why they decided to bolt.
If it was not for him I would have given them the money they were demanding not because I know them but in order to avoid causing a scene and to protect my reputation.
The following day, I paid the manager of the shop to inform him about my debacle and after reviewing CCTV footage from the previous day he told me that they would now be on the lookout for suspicious activity of that nature and would engage the police if such a situation arose.
During conversations with some of the people who do their business in this area including cab drivers and vendors, it emerged that this was the new con in town and it now seems like no-one is safe from these desperate commercial s3x workers.
A cab driver (name withheld) plying his trade at Fife Avenue Shopping Centre said they were witnessing these scenes every now and then.
“This particular area has become a hunting ground for commercial s3x workers who extort money from innocent citizens,” he said.
“A hooker will just walk up to you and say you owe her money from a previous encounter or whatever accusation she chooses and when you try to explain that you don’t know what she is talking about she will raise her voice and then tell you to give her a dollar or two if you don’t want further embarrassment.
“It is difficult for people to intervene because you can’t tell if the accusations are true or not so most of the time people will just watch on as the drama unfolds but usually people pay up because a dollar is not worth the embarrassment.”
Others claimed that some of the women walk around with male colleagues who are quick to jump into the confusing altercations pretending to make peace while they search and steal from the victim.
With competition rife in this prostitution haven, commercial s3x workers are coming up with new and atrocious ways of making a quick buck.