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Homeless and in a wheelchair at 63

Zolile Ncapayi is 63 and unable to walk. He progressively lost the use of his legs over 30 years ago.

Man's dreadlocks stolen at club

By Poppy Louw, The Times | 2013-01-29 15:01:21.0

'Demand for human hair extensions prompts theft of dreadlocks'

Jasper Munsinwa was partying at a Johannesburg club when he noticed his friend was missing.

Minutes later, he found him passed out - with all of his dreadlocks shorn off!

Munsinwa's friend, Mutsa Madonko, who was visiting from Zimbabwe early this month and has since left, is one of a growing number of people who have had their dreadlocks stolen in the past few months.

The thefts, said hair stylists, were probably connected to the rising demand for natural dreadlocks as extensions.

Shoulder-length dreadlocks are sold for between R200 and R700, while longer ones cost as much as R2,500.

Munsinwa said it was clear that whoever stole his friend's hair - which had taken him 10 years to grow - was after nothing else.

"When we found him, he still had his cellphone and wallet with all his money inside."

Dreadlock stylists outside the Central Methodist Church in central Johannesburg said such is the demand for dreadlocks that few ask questions when the matted locks are offered for sale.

Said John Wushe: "They are becoming very popular. On a busy day we get about 10 people wanting to extend their hair."

But not everyone is keen on using a stranger's hair.

Willy Selahla of Soweto said: "I'm using my brother's hair because I know where it comes from and that he wasn't hurt".

Johannesburg police spokesman Captain John Maluleka encouraged victims to open cases of assault. He said: "We have only heard stories - no cases have been reported to us."

Maluleka said it could be a case of victims being too embarrassed to report the theft of their hair.

Randburg stylist Lebo Masimong said women were the most vulnerable.

"You are an easy target if you walk around the CBD and your hair is loose. They don't care about your money or fancy phone. They are only after your hair."