We sat around a plate of roasted meat, wooden toothpicks in hand, listening to a friend narrate how a robber, a few days prior,had jumped into his car at a junction in the Capital City’s Area 15.
In a scuffle that then ensued inside the vehicle, the car owner was lucky not to get sliced or have eyes poked out by the knife-wielding bandit, who upon getting it hard to rob his target, called for the help of a fellow thug who had hidden in a maize field.
‘Atabwera winayo, ndi amene anandiswa apapa. [when the second bandit popped on the scene, he hit me here], the friend recounted, carefully caressing a lump on his forehead where the robber had hit him with an iron bar.
The lump was the size of half a golf ball. It gave him a stupid look, but he seemed more worried about the phone than the ‘tomato’ growing on his brow.
The long and short of this story is that robbers made away with a phone the friend had barely owned for two days.
All the while that the comrade was narrating his ordeal, another friend seemed to grow restless, his eyes widening and limbs shaking.At last, his lips trembled into speech:
‘Lilongwe yanunkha.Inetu ndafwambidwa lowerukali! [Lilongwe is reeking thuggery. I too just got mugged at the weekend!]’said the second victim, as he got to share his story.
He arrived in the Capital City at around midnight from Blantyre. Upon getting off a bus at the Lilongwe’s main depot, he was swarmed by taxi operators from which he randomly picked one.
He took the front passenger seat, like a king, the door opened and closed for him by a guy the taxi driver said was an assistant.
‘Mwayenda bwanji, Biggie? [how was the journey, Boss?’]Inquired the driver in act of customer care while raving the vehicle into motion.
Soon they were off to Area 23, well, supposedly!
A few turns and stories into the journey, somewhere along Biwi, the driver took a direction that was in no way explainable.
‘Tikulowera kuti? [where are we heading to]?’asked the client.
‘Khala chete! [shut up!],’The ‘assistant’ fumed from the back seat, now wrapping his arms around the client’s throat in painfully choking hack.
They soon drove a few metres into a bush overlooking Petroda Filling Station by the Kamuzu Central Hospital roundabout.
The vehicle was welcomed by bandits who pulled the guy out and dragged him before a muscled hunk they called ‘Bwana [Boss].’
‘Ali ndi zingati? [how much is the haul on this one?]’ Bwana inquired.
‘K5 700,’ said the ‘assistant’ as a boy not older than 12 dutifully unlaced the victim’s shoes and passed them on to Bwana.
After being stripped of his bag and all clothes, the man was dragged along the tall bushes Bwana’s men who dumped him by the road a couple of hundred metres away from Bwana’s habitat.
The victim was left to find his way home in his birth suit.
‘Lilongwe ndilibe naye mawu.Chonde osamangokwera galimoto zosadziwika bwino. [I have no kind words for Lilongwe. Don’t just jump into vehicles anyhow.]’ said the second victim.
‘Akuba alusa mu Kapitolo muno. Chonde, osayenda musanakhome zitseko. [Thuggery has gotten worse. L/ock car doors as you drive around.]’ said the first victim. n