Tawanda Mukarakate vividly remembers the first day he came to Harare, a day full of hope and new beginnings. The 21 year old Uzumba man had tried unsuccessfully to make ends meet in the rural areas, so he came to the capital, “a place full of opportunities” he had been told.
As he disembarked from the bus he immediately came across posters advertising job opportunities – the gods were with him!
He gave one a call, secured a space on a training programme for a sum of money and thought days of employment were soon to be his. How wrong he was.
Mukarakate is just one of many people who have fallen into the hands of unscrupulous scammers.
The employment arena is one of their favourite hunting grounds, with classified ads used as bait to appeal to desperate job seekers. Attractive offers of high salaries of about $500–$550, transport and food allowances, and free accommodation among other basic necessities are listed in the ads.
The bogus employment offers are for both local and international jobs and many adverts for positions of security personnel, till operators and supermarket assistants are placed weekly in most local newspapers and on posters around the city.
Joshua Chaka, a resident of Mount Pleasant who fell into the trap said, “When I called one of the numbers on the advert I was asked to report to their office which is situated at Daventry House. I was asked to pay $50 which they said was for training.”
He was applying for a security guard position, which promised a salary of $500 a month while food, accommodation and transport were covered.
He said that after having made all payments, he was taken to Coca Cola ground along Seke Road for training. There he found more than 60 people anxiously waiting for the training to commence.
However, once he had completed the seven day training and was issued with a certificate, he was asked to come back to check if any positions were available.
Days and weeks passed with the poor man checking daily, until he lost all hope.
Another victim Chenai Masango (24) of Greencroft said that after realising she had been duped, she took the matter to the police but the case was just overlooked.
Officials in the Ministry of Labour and Social Services said, “Although there is a slight increase in industrial growth, the state of our economy is a major cause of these unscrupulous people taking advantage of desperate and innocent job seekers.”
He urged members of the public to be cautious and avoid paying agencies and recruiters in order to get a job as this is a technique fake recruiters use. Agencies should be paid by recruiting companies or organisations and not by the job seekers themselves.
Needless to say, Mukarakate’s efforts to retrieve his money after realising he had been scammed were in vain.