The rat ate your money

All things being fair and just, this is the time of the year where everyone should be joyful and in full festive mood and worrying about nothing at all.

It is that time when all we should be thinking of is the next three hectic weeks of feasting, wining and sleeping until noon, until hunger wakes one up, or whatever comes first!

But then again, that is if you will be at your own house, holidaying somewhere and definitely not at your mother’s house.  Our mothers don’t allow any of that nonsense.

While I would have really loved to be among those who witnessed and actually touched the cloud that apparently ‘fell’ at the village of Mathangwane last month, this year I resolved to have only two resolutions.


The first one was to just live and breathe and mind my own business, the second was, well, that this year I wouldn’t be joining the poor man’s money laundering schemes, otherwise known as ‘metshelo’. Goes without saying that my two resolutions have been a roaring success, I made it!

Loosely translated, and just in case anyone is wondering, motshelo simply means ‘give and take’. The problem with this scheme is some people mistake it for banking.

The deal is simple; you contribute for someone, next time you get the same courtesy. Everyone is happy, no one gets cheated.  This was done in good faith, not what we see today.  Because everything is modernized nowadays, it appears that somebody modernized these schemes too, with the whole meaning lost somewhere along the way.

Today’s metshelo are nothing but ‘get-rich-quick schemes for dishonest people. If it weren’t so then why do we get funny stories concerning these schemes this time of the year, every year?

As I have already stated, this year I opted out. This was after a hard lesson I learnt, courtesy of a couple of metshelo I joined last year. I made a huge loss, I got swindled and this was not even the first time.

Some years ago, together with four other people, after a long heated debate that lasted 18 hours, we piled up in a car and made our way to Naledi police station after being swindled in this fashion.

The swindler had disappeared into thin air with our money. After a stern lecture from the police officer, we were then given one affidavit form to fill in. As I filled in the form, it occurred to me that nobody knew the person’s full names, none of us even knew the persons physical address.

 Later as we walked out, we even wondered whether the person even existed at all, because everybody assumed that everybody but themselves knew her! I had my first real taste of how it must feel to be a fool.

It didn’t help that even as we were walking out, the police officer, who had insisted on walking us out, continued with his lecture, reminding us just how irresponsible we have all been! He would have locked us in just to teach us a lesson if he could!

Just in case anyone is contemplating these schemes next year, like any other scheme, there is always a catch.

The biggest catch is that there is no bank; one of you becomes the bank. Furthermore, one does not get to choose who the other members are, well, unless you hatched the idea and recruited people.

Not everyone gets swindled though, like I advised last year after I got swindled, the trick is to withhold settling your balance until after everyone else has done the same, when you see the money on the table. Otherwise good luck with the rat stories. Happy Christmas and have a fantastic 2016!

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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