IT is Friday evening, Samantha (not real name) is dressed in tight blue jeans, high-heeled shoes and a light-blue top. Due to Covid-19 regulations that prohibit bars and nightclubs from opening to the public, the 23-year-old sex worker has found a new haven to play her trade.

STEPHEN CHADENGA

The bar is a military joint popularly known in Gweru as “KuSix Maint”, located in the central business district opposite the Old TM commuter rank.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns that began in March last year, ladies of the night in the Midlands capital had been plying their trade at various night spots dotted around the city. But due to the closure of the bars and nightclubs to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, life has become difficult for women who sell sex to make ends meet.

“But with the ease with which we are accommodated at the army bar, our trade has become easier, as we find many potential clients here,” Samantha told The NewsHawks.

“There is no any other joint like this one where one can freely carry out their trade without fear of police raids.”

A snap survey by this publication showed that during weekends, Six Maint operates until the wee hours of the morning, making it one of the most prominent bars in the city offering night entertainment. Such flexibility has made it popular among sex traders.

But observations by this publication point to a lack of adherence to Covid-19 regulations, with no proper wearing of face masks and failure to maintain social distancing, among other basic rules.

“Am not sure of how bars operated by the military are licensed, but surely for us this has become a relief as we look for money to survive,” another sex worker who only identified herself as Nancy said.

“During these lockdown periods, it’s difficult to operate from the streets as you would be arrested so at least here we have somewhere to look for clients without hindrance,” Nancy said.

Asked if they were not afraid of Covid-19 due to the overcrowding in the bar, the sex workers said life during Covid-19 “was a dog-eat-dog situation”.

Contacted for comment on whether law enforcement agents were descending on errant bars in the city that flouted Covid-19 regulations, Midlands provincial police spokesperson Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko urged members of the public to notify police stations in their areas.

There is need to inform the stations (police) concerned,” he said. However, he would not comment on the operations of the army bar.

Source – The NewsHawks