The Sunday Mail
Doxford is not a name you are likely to hear every day, for it lies tucked away within the rolling hills of Mazowe.
It is a community in itself, reclusive, far away from other communities, yet it is a self-sufficient community, a community that looks after itself – and more importantly, does not welcome outsiders.
Especially outsiders who do not fit into the regime of Doxford, outsiders who want to pry into the affairs of Doxford.
For Doxford is the heartbeat, the epicentre of artisanal mining, the meeting place for makorokoza when they are done with scouring the womb of earth for treasure. They sit, share, chat, idle away the hours, waiting for the next run deep into the gullies of the Mazowe hills, to find the precious metal – gold.
And that idling can take any of several forms: “We are usually away from home for long, hard weeks,” one artisanal miner opened up, “and there is always that urge to quench our sexual appetites. Reason why you find that sex workers are in abundance here, there is always a demand for their services.”
The casual liaisons between the informal miners and the sex workers usually take different, and often tragic, forms, the most common being unprotected sex.
Whereupon the blame game begins: the sex workers blaming the miners for demanding (and paying a premium) for unprotected sex whereas on the other hand the miners argue that there is not an enough supply of condoms in their community.
Resultantly, sexually transmitted infections are an every day occurrence.
Lovemore Mudzinge (22) who travelled from Kwekwe in August 2018, said there is a lot of sex work going on in the Doxford community, and much of it unprotected “because some of us cannot afford the condoms which retail for anything between $10 and $15 per pack”.
A sex worker who refused to be identified, “because I left home without saying where I am going”, said the violent behaviour between the informal miners was one of the reasons why unprotected sex is rife within the community.
“These guys can be very violent, on each other and against us, sex workers. For example, when I get a client and go to my cabin, we may be attacked in the midst of having our quality time, as they will be after my client’s money.
“This results in us having a rushed session, which is usually unprotected. And some of the clients demand, and even pay a premium, for unprotected sex.”
The ever prevalent violence amongst the informal miners results in the sex workers abandoning the cabins, for casual sex encounters, and opting to use the “safer” bush, where they are not attacked.
But the “bush sex” comes with its own attendant downside, it is usually rushed as well. And many-a-time unprotected too.
The casual sex encounters prevalent in the Doxford community keeps Kudakwashe Kamupiyuwu, a peer educator, busy on his toes as he has to constantly educate the sex workers and the informal miners on genital warts (and other sexually transmitted infections), the correct use of condoms as well as encouraging the sex providers to be screened regularly for cancers, especially cervical.
“My work evolves around teaching and preaching about the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and the correct use of condoms. Challenging as my duties are, considering that I have to work with informal miners, I always try to make sure that what I will be talking to them about, is saving their own lives,” he said.
Some of the challenges, he noted, that the community faces is the short supply of readily accessible condoms, lack of mobile testing clinics as the local clinic is usually overwhelmed.
“We distribute about 500 boxes per week and these are not enough as the sexual activity here is very high. We would like it if the concerned authorities look into the plight of people here and make timely interventions,” Kamupiyuwu said.