BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
SOME aspiring models were allegedly duped of their money by Dexter Munashe Chiponda, of little-known modelling agent Face of Africa, NewsDay Life & Style has learnt.
The trio of Delene January, Tadiwanashe Shambira and Tatenda Tarasana became the victims late last year.
January and Shambira were swindled of US$40, while Tarasana was conned of R377 which she sent via mobile service company Mukuru.
Chiponda also allegedly requested nude images of January and Shambira and made sexual advances on the former.
The trio opened up recently in a WhatsApp group for the movement Models Against Abuse initiated by Lucia “Lucie Bardie” Mazhou.
“We initially paid US$10 to join Chiponda’s Face of Africa and the coach was Mr Slim. The organisation had just four models. I suggested cargo skirts, cargo pants and T-shirts with the agency’s logo for easy identification since Dexter was organising a workshop. He welcomed the idea and asked us to pay US$ 15 for a cargo skirt and US$ 10 for a T-shirt in total US$25,” January said.
“I then gave him US$40 since I had no exact amount of US$25, but he didn’t give me the US$15 change. We later learnt that he was squandering people’s money. He never paid anything to anyone. His graphic designer only got US$20 from March to November last year.”
January also accused Chiponda of improperly touching her and requesting nude pictures.
“When we gave him our pictures, he said we looked old suggesting that we were supposed to expose our bodies. He then sent us the type of pictures he expected. I laughed, quizzing him if this was not going to ruin my dream to get married. He then said ‘you never know, maybe I am the one who is going to marry you’. I laughed and told him that I didn’t want to be married to a Zimbabwean. Eventually, I sent him a picture of someone in a lingerie pant,” she said.
“On September 23, he moved his hand on my thighs and hands when he had called me for a meeting at Oxbow at Angwa City Mall. I was quick to warn and advise him to stick to business.”
January added: “He also had affairs with some models and unfairly removed some from his WhatsApp platform. At one point, he asked a certain lady to send him her picture while clad in an undergarment, claiming that he wanted to forward it to a company which advertises pants.”
Shambira confirmed that Chiponda requested her nude pictures, adding that they looked for help from all corners, but their efforts were fruitless.
“At first, he (Chiponda) was a really nice guy till he started asking me to be a glamour model. He asked me to be shot while naked. I listened to him the first time, he began to ask for nude pictures when at home saying I want to see your new look,” she said.
“That is when I decided to ask our then coach (Mr Slim) about glamour modelling and he said that was not good for people of our age. That time we were 17 and he discouraged us from venturing into that kind of modelling.”
Contacted for comment, Chiponda disputed the allegations.
“When people are at loggerheads with someone, they don’t have to lie because the story might turn against them. About sexual advancements and nudes, it’s a lie. They said they are glamour models and that is the reason why I avoided going for shoots with them. Glamour modelling is a personal choice and no one is forced, one does it out of her own consent,” he said.
“There are two sides to every coin. Coming to monetary issues, it’s not Shambira whom I dealt with, but Delene only. Delene ordered a personalised T-shirt and cargo skirt. Her merchandise was delayed since lithography is not an essential service provider. So COVID-19 restrictions came into play. Out of emotions, they both left our WhatsApp group.”
Chiponda alleged that the models had also breached their contracts.
“I did not issue them any certificates because leaving without completing a set task was breaching a contract. Later on when her merchandise was ready, she asked for compensation and I explained that the delay was beyond anyone’s control. I have her stuff, but she insisted on monetary compensation,” he said.
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