Harare's world of 'Nyengistos'

HARARE - Looking savvy, Tawanda sports an attractive woman in high heels strutting across the street.

Patiently he follows her and then scoops on her. The woman blushes and softens to Moyo’s charms.

But alas, a few hours later she is inside a police station, crying. What started as attraction has ended up as destruction as Tawanda, a city slicker has smartly swindled her. Apparently con artists are coming with new tricks everyday to dupe people of their hard earned money and other possessions. They call it “welcome to Harare.”

The latest trick in the book is using love to steal from unsuspecting women, who might have thought the odds are in their favour by finding love in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Harare’s busy central business district.

Police have nicknamed these con artists “nyengistos” meaning experts in the courtship game.

Nyengistos devise ruses as they target high-heeled women both literally and figuratively.

The nyengistos mostly target women with trendy cell phones, groceries, posh cars, and of course swag.
“You would never suspect that these people are conmen. They are presentable and often have cars,” said a police officer.

One woman, a victim of deception initially thought the police were foiling her chances of finding love, joy and a happy life ever after.

Police said the unsuspecting woman was visiting the city from her rural home.

“When the man offered to take her to a hotel she refused since she was not accustomed to hotel hook ups.  When we told her that the proposal was actually meant to rob her she started crying.”

Many women, married and single have been duped using this love trick by the nyengistos, thinking they are genuine suitors who would have picked them from a sea of women. In a country where unemployment is estimated at 90 percent, con artists are desperate to make money in any way as job opportunities remain scarce. - Bridget Mananavire

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