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The strange case of Zimbabwe’s Thabo Bester:
Online con artiste amassed money, scammed many, and got alert journalist arrested

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It could read like the script of a Netflix film much like The Tinder Swindler and Inventing Anna, but this story almost got a man sent to incarceration, countless people blackmailed and many more lost their savings.


With the Thabo Bester story exposing how con artistes start from an early age, the story of one Wayne Moses Saidi was a sad one.
He went onto social media telling Facebook users he was an orphan and needed help with money to finish school as he was doing final high school studies.


The story by the 16 year old attracted a lot of people, and the readers started sending him ecacash (Zimbabwe’s M’pesa) to help him go to school.
According to him, his mother and father had been burnt to death in South Africa in two separate incidents, and he had been orphaned by xenophobia.

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He alleged he was living with an abusive guardian and was not going to school.
A woman in Great Britain got in touch with him through a journalist in that country Robert Mukondiwa and they reached him and arranged for his to get more money and help.


But the journalist asked too many questions sensing that the story was awkward and his lady friend was being scammed because of a good heart.


Mukondiwa was soon in trouble accused by the child of molesting him.
The media and the socials in the country went mad with the journalist being held in custody awaiting trial. But to the amazement of many and anger of many, it never kicked off because many things seemed to not have fallen into place.
He had convinced the woman in Great Britain to his side and because she was a nurse, she immediately took the side of the 16 yearly abused person.


Then after more than 2 years the case was dropped when Moses Saidi finally tried to withdraw it in court allegedly with Mukondiwa protesting that he wanted the case tried.
The woman was nowhere to be seen because revelations over the investigations had revealed interesting facts.


Against what the accuser alleged, he was not a 16 year old child but a 20 year old man at that time. It is believed he pretended to be a young child to lure people to his story and have them feel sorry for him. After that the medical examiner determined there was no evidence of assault. Add to that was evidence that the accuser had continued visiting the accused after the alleged assault at one time asking to be allowed to stay with the journalist instead of his guardian who he said was abusive and uncaring. How an assault victim can keep asking to visit and live with the accused caused the investigators a problem.

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Then investigators found out that he was not only living with a loving guardian but the guardian was fully paid up on school fees and was unaware of the post going round which the man was using to get sympathy and money.
It is alleged that the journalist had noticed these facts and when he suggested that he would drive his car to take Saidi to the rural areas to visit his parents grave, that is when Saidi sensed danger that the journalist was about to expose him.
As the case struggled to kick off in the courts, another twist came out. A man suddenly came to the capital city with an interest in the case. The old man from the rural areas turned out to be Saidi’s ‘dead’ father!


Saidi was not an orphan, said his father, but a delinquent man who had been sent away from his home for delinquency and being a dishonest character.
This revelation has been enough now to get South Africans upset.


South Africans have not taken kindly to the fact that many Zimbabweans accuse them of xenophobia and lying that two people were burnt to death leaving a helpless child had been bad PR for the country which is battling its northern neighbour on issues of illegal immigration.
A meeting in Limpopo province discussing the false burning of Saidi’s parents went as far as resolving to demand a public apology to South Africans for the story.


The journalist is allegedly now a media consultant. But maybe his personal sacrifice and case helped stop hundreds more people of losing a lot of money to the con artiste who was probably going to continue.

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While stories like that of Saidi sound like fiction, it turns out that such ruinous stories and con attempts are possible by the very desperate.

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