TOBACCO farmers who are selling their crop in Harare are under siege from prostitutes that are after their hard-earned cash.
BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Other than offering sex services for money, the prostitutes who turn the auction floors into their hunting ground every tobacco selling season, are also providing accommodation to the farmers.
A survey conducted by Standardcommunity last week established that prostitution had become so prevalent at auction floors in Harare, especially at Boka Auction Floors, largely because of its proximity to Hopley Farm, a sprawling high-density suburb.
A tobacco farmer, who identified himself only as Tonderai, from Headlands in Manicaland province, said most farmers were losing their hard-earned cash to the cunning prostitutes, who sometimes work in cahoots with male thieves.
He said some of the prostitutes went to the extent of giving the farmers accommodation and sexual favours first and expected payment when the farmers sold their tobacco.
“This is happening everyday, commercial sex workers from the nearby areas are pouncing on farmers heavily and some are even providing shelter for them,” he said.
“Some of the commercial sex workers are even offering services in credit form and farmers pay after selling their tobacco. This is the routine and most farmers are losing money this way.”
The commercial sex workers are charging between US$30 and US$50 per night for both sex and accommodation. Farmers are also falling victims to prostitutes who throng the nearby local bars and night clubs.
The environment during the day is deceiving as it appears like everything is normal, with farmers struggling to book their bales due to the congestion at the floors.
However, during the night, the situation changes completely to that of moral debauchery. Women that are skimpily dressed roam around the area targeting the farmers.
Robbers also move around identifying and targeting those farmers that would have been paid.
Some of the prostitutes that have flooded the auction floors also come from other suburbs of Harare such as Glen Norah, Epworth, Budiriro and Mufakose while others travel from as far as Chitungwiza, Murewa and Shamva.
Meanwhile, car and furniture dealers at Glenview 8 Complex have hiked their prices by over 50%, as they try to make a killing from farmers.
One of the furniture dealers, Thomas Mutseyekwa said they made the most of their profits during the tobacco selling season because farmers were impulsive buyers.
“This is our time to make money. the farmers are obsessed with buying whatever they want here without considering the prices,” he said.
“They have a lot of money and they don’t bother negotiating prices. Most dealers here have hiked prices and business is going well.”
Mutseyekwa said a bed which used to cost US$150 each, was now going for US$280.
“I have sold more than seven beds since the auction floors opened,” he said.
Car dealers have also flooded the floors, hoping to sell their vehicles, most of them unroadworthy, at inflated prices.
Prostitutes, furniture and car dealers also target farmers who sell their crop at Tobacco Auction Floor Limited and Premier Tobacco Auction Floors.