Despite resentment from their local counterparts, Zimbabwean commercial sex workers are a blessing to hot-blooded men in Botswana looking for some quick action for pay.
The Zimbabwean prostitution started in Palapye, in the central part of Botswana.
Late after sunset, the Zimbabwe women come out in hordes to wait for their clients next to the Gaborone/Francistown road. This is a suitable spot where all people alighting from the buses pass through to get to the bars and every male who passes is greeted and this can result in a conversation leading to paid sex.
Zimbabwean prostitution has spread to all parts of Botswana, especial Gaborone, the capital city. The Zimbabwean prostitutes in the city conduct their business 24 hours a day from rented houses which they have now turned into brothels.
A woman who gave her name as Anna, refused to give her age, saying “what has age got to do with it, if you are interested in me, you simply pay, no strings attached, you are not going to marry me.” Anna, a married woman, said she had no choice because of the situation in Zimbabwe, lamenting “things are tough back home, I have no choice at all and I have three children and a husband who is working as a bank teller. “My husband and children think I am here in Botswana to sell goods like crafts and clothes which I order in Zimbabwe but in small quantities just to mislead them and I bring money home to supplement my husband’s salary. “At times, I tell them that I am coming to collect debts from people who owe me money here in Botswana,” Anna said, without remorse.
According to her, she comes to the country as a visitor and she goes back when her visiting days are over. “I target the month ends because these are the days when you can make a killing. You can make anything from P150 to P400 on a busy night. “A short time or ‘quickie’ will cost you P20 and the whole night is P50 and you will have to pay me the money before we go because I don’t want to do the job for nothing,” she said.
The tall middle-aged woman said she does not care who she sleeps with as long as they have the money to pay for the services, adding that her clients range from businessmen on trips, truck drivers and most of the men leaving bars after a drink. “I rent a one-room house where we can go and you will have to pay for the taxi for us to get there. What I am doing is what every woman is doing, if you have your wife or girlfriend and you provide for her, you are indirectly paying for sex. “The local women hate us because we are making more money than they do. All what the locals do is get beer from men and then they are happy.”
At times the ‘quickie’ is taken in any comfortable spot in the bushes or any oth er place where nobody will pass by. Anna said she knows about HIV/AIDS but she needs the money for her children and her husband back home. “I make sure I use condoms all the time and I will not give in to not using a condom, even for more offers of money. It is quite tempting but I have children at home to think of. They need me to be alive and healthy,” she said.
illusions of grandeur
Tatenda, a 24 year-old prostitute from Zimbabwe, living in Gaborone, claims she does not like what she is doing but has to do it because she has to save money to open her catering business. “I am a devoted Christian, I pray to God daily, to provide for me but nothing is happening and the situation in Zimbabwe is making everything worse, so I am between the rock and a hard place” said Tatenda. According to her, she has no worry about the police because many of them also buy sex from her, adding that she has plenty regular customers who are in the police force and they won’t arrest her for prostitution.
Tatenda said she was ready to settle down if any man was willing to marry her but strangely she said she did not have any boyfriend. “If you are willing to pay the 300pula rental for the room and you are willing to provide me with everything that I want, I can marry you “she said.
Tatenda’s list of demands turned out to be nothing any man can afford but she said she can provide all those things for herself.