A group of “motherly” con artists scammed a Wits student last week after luring her away from a clothes store with promises of back door deals.
Lutendo Maiwashe, 2nd year BEcon Sci, was browsing through clothes at the Legit store in Braamfontein when a middle-aged women approached her.
The woman said she had a cousin who could help her get clothes at half price.
“The lady seemed very sympathetic to the fact that I’m a student and clothes are expensive. She said we could go meet her cousin outside,” Maiwashe said.
The woman led Maiwashe outside and, as they were walking, another woman joined them. They all walked to a spot outside a bottle store on Melle Street.
“The second woman asked me if it was the first time I was doing this and also convinced me that it was a great deal and for my benefit. She referred to the ‘cousin’ as Zandi,” Maiwashe said.
Maiwashe said that very soon after they had stopped outside the bottle store, “Zandi” joined them. The first woman said she needed to quickly go to the bank and left Maiwashe with her belongings. Maiwashe thinks this was to establish trust.
“Zandi” explained Maiwashe would come with her to the store and they would go through the staff entrance. For this reason Maiwashe would have to leave her bag behind.
When they got to the store “Zandi” suddenly realised it was closing time and said Maiwashe should come back with her friends on the weekend. When Maiwashe went back for her bag, the other women were gone. And so was her bag.
“It was traumatic. I mean I would never have expected this from women. I am a trusting person and now I’m not. These women represented a mother figure,” Maiwashe said.
After the incident Maiwashe recalled that one of the women was wearing a pale blue shirt which looked like it could belong to a Pick ’n Pay employee. After searching the streets with some of her friends they went to Pick ’n Pay to ask if they could check the surveillance cameras to see if they could identify the con artists.
A Pick ’n Pay manager, who asked not to be named, confirmed they had heard of two similar incidents in the past two weeks. She said, however, these people were not employees of Pick ’n Pay.
Simangele Bhila, a Legit employee, said she had also heard of two incidents, one at their store and one at Pick ’n Pay. She said the one who robbed a lady at their store was a man who was allegedly working with women.
Maiwashe has reported the case to the police but she said she wasn’t sure if they would investigate as they did not ask her to describe the perpetrators.
“I could’ve just bought the shirt, it was only R80 and I had the cash in my bag,” said Maiwashe, adding she has been put off discount offers for life.