“U bata ku luka?” (Do you want to be plaited?) is a question or statement that is usually asked by most Zimbabwean ladies who cue at the taxi rank in Gaborone as they try to lure females who want different hairstyles done on them.
You see almost fifteen of them queuing at the taxi rank, from morning until sunset, as they lure females who want to be plaited.
During the weekends, a good number of ladies congregates under the trees where they plait customers any kind of style that they can find at up market salons.
It is a business that has even attracted Batswana who had never seen it as an opportunity to be exploited.
Tendani Balashiki wakes up every morning and boards a combi to the taxi rank to look for customers, especially women, who want different kinds of hairstyles.
She has been doing it since she left Zimbabwe amid economic hardships that plagued the country. A self taught hair dresser, Tendani does all kinds of hairstyle that customers want.
Her sister introduced her to the business and she has been doing it for a living since 2009. It is more like work to her. She just waits by the taxi rank with others and solicits for potential customers among people passing by.
She says that it does not take a lot of energy to do her daily work. She gives a customer a good smile and greets her. She has customers who even follow her wherever she moves to.
At times on good days, she rakes close to P500 for plaiting her customers. She does all kinds of hairstyles that suit her customers of different tastes and ages.
Tendani leads her customers to a nearby tree where she plaits them under the tree just next to Borakanelo Police station.
She is fully aware that doing such a business is illegal but contends that there is nothing that she can do. She explained that she has been arrested and charged several times for running this business.
She despairs, saying there is nothing else she can do to earn a living.
Tendani further noted that the police are always harassing them even though they know that all they want is to make a living.
She does not blame the police but points a finger at salons, accusing them of being jealous.
“It’s their failure on their part because they are not doing enough to attract customers. They just accuse us of stealing their customers,” she said.
Since the police are cracking harder on them, they have chosen to take their customers to other places where they plaint their customers. She said that they even go to their customers’ homes, if need be.
With the money she makes, Tendani is able to raise money to pay rent and send some of it to relatives back home.
Borakanelo Police Station Commander, Modise Gabatshwane, noted that it is not true that they were arresting and charging only Zimbabweans who are plaiting customers under the trees.
He stated that they are not arresting and charging anyone based on ethnicity. He emphasized that they take action against those who operate such business under such environment.
Gabatswane was of the view that it was against the law to operate a salon under a tree.
He further noted that they have been arresting people who carry out such business around the taxi rank vicinity, saying that they charged them as stipulated in the law.
He said those who are found doing such business are fined between P200 and P500.