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Card game scam makes a comeback in Limpopo

Limpopo residents are warned that the three-card game is illegal and they are advised to report such cases to the police

LIMPOPO -The three-card game which was prevalent in the earlier years has seen a recent reliving in the busy Thohoyandou streets.

In the 1990’s most cities, developed towns and small towns were characterised by the sight of people playing this game where the host uses either three decks of cards or three bottle caps. In the case of cards, a host mixes the cards and the player will need to choose one correct card – all while telling you, you have a chance of winning money.

With bottle caps, the host inserts within it a tiny ball of paper, chewing gum or any other small sticky matter rolled into a ball. He moves the caps on the board to trick the player into losing sight of the ball-holding cap.

They would find nothing inside it because the host maneuvered it and had it stuck either in his nail or on the back part of his palm. Lured passersby become gullible players.

This game was then declared illegal and many people who hosted it were arrested, prosecuted and given jail terms. Ever since then, hosts were not publicly seen in any of the towns or cities.

Until recently when three-card hosts where spotted just outside Thavhani Mall.

Just outside Thavhani Mall, after the traffic signs on the other side, three-card hosts occupy the space beside the busy pavement.

“Come one , come all, win now! Cash for you and your children. Win and go and buy food and clothes for your children. This is early Christmas!” hails one man. He holds banknotes in his one hand and has banknotes stashed in his socks.

“Any of you with R100, come open the cap – if you get it, you go home with R450!”

A teenager stepped forward and won. It appeared that the host team comprised over 10 members who were mostly masqueraded as passersby who had stopped to observe and eventually ‘get interested’ in betting.

One old man ambled away from the crowd of onlookers, shaking his head incredulously.

“The majority of those young women look either stoned or dizzy with a hangover. They are being used for a very dangerous game!”

This kind of a game is more of a scam or money-swindling game and not a quick, lucrative money-making game it appears to be.

There was another spot in the CBD.

An illegal three-card spot photographed in the CBD of Thohoyandou. Young men are watching out for the presence of the police.

After some minutes of seeing others win, they too would join the game and make a great loss. CV approached one woman after losing. “I feel miserable. My husband will kill me if he knows that I have thrown his hard-earned money to these vultures. I had come to buy food for the month and some clothes for the kids.”

Besides the host, there were at least three young men keeping a lookout for the police. Each time they sighted suspicion, they would rush to the spot to report to the host.

Munna Ndi Nnyi’s director, Dr Bardwell Mufunwaini said that he had learnt about the game in town and that his heart ached for the unknowing townspeople who are the main targets.

“The festive season is upon us and many people are going to fall into this trap. The police need to act swiftly and members of the public need to be informed widely.”

Provincial Police Spokesperson Col Moatshe Ngoepe said the three- card was illegal and advised people to report such cases, as it amounts to theft.


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