Our men’s circle in the ghetto took time off the usual rendez-vous to pay a visit to a friend’s nephew who had now spent a week nursing a black eye and cuts to the face.
The young man had met his fate at the hands of alleged municipality stewards who cornered him selling bananas and oranges by a bank.
We found the guy in pain, and had it not been for his insistence, we had no intention to have him narrate his ordeal through badly swollen lips.
He explained how his first ever day as a vendor won him the worst of experiences.
The guy was recently laid off by some company in Kanengo. Now running short of ideas to put food on the table for his family, he ended up with a basket of bananas on his head, roaming the city streets.
But barely an hour into his sojourn came wardens who pounded him to pulp by the roadside and confiscated his basket of hope, leaving him too weak to even crawl.
Being experienced ruffians that they are, the stewards stealthily stalk their prey and pounce with the agility of a hungry crocodile.
I have ever seen some in action along the crowded street between Game and Shoprite complexes in Old Town; watch them ‘benefit’ from vendors selling fritters, fruits or anything they can quickly lay their teeth on. It is only then that you will learn that it is a system gone wrong.
It was on a baking midday when a sweaty young man carrying a bucketful of samoosas on his head was midway across the road, weaving through a jam of vehicles on his way towards a parked minibus.
In a flash, the minibus touts went into a deafening roar: Thawa boma iwe! Chenjera patauni iwe!
A white pickup was slowing to the pavement and out of it jumped half a dozen rough men drooling at the sight of the vendors in the vicinity.
The roughnecks, half of them in dark glasses like bad guys in a Nigerian movie, walked around the vicinity majestically as if to announce their czar status.
But the vendors had been equally game, hurrying into their hideouts and leaving the wardens arms akimbo.
Then, as the wardens made it back to their now stationary vehicle, one of the guys who remained in the back of the vehicle popped his head out and cued the stewards towards the guy with a plastic bucket on his head as he headed for a tricycle taxi.
The pride of lions was all paws on the helpless boy; some grabbing the bucket and others slapping him like crazy.
In no time the boy was flat on the ground, a thud of blows and kicks raining on him like a hailstorm.
I was among the first to attend to the boy. And sadly, the boy was not even vending. He was only cutting across town to supply the lot somewhere around Falls Estate.
“Kuli ukwati mawa ndiye ndimakasiya samusa kumeneko. Mayi anga atsogola kale ndi makeke, (There is a wedding tomorrow and I was going to drop the samosas. My mother is already there)” the boy cried.
Through teary eyes, he watched his attackers majestically take their haul to the vehicle and off the sped.