A Zimbabwean man was recently robbed of his dreadlocks at a South African night club to feed a growing demand for human hair extensions. Jasper Munsinwa had his long locks that he has grown for 10 years, cut off while partying at a Johannesburg club. Munsinwa's friend, Mutsa Madonko said it was clear that whoever stole his friend's hair was after nothing else. "When we found him, he still had his cellphone and wallet with all his money inside."
The theft, said hair stylists, was probably connected to the rising demand for natural dreadlocks as extensions. Shoulder-length dreadlocks are sold for between R200 (£14, $22) and R700 (£49, $77), while longer ones cost as much as R2500 (£175, $275). Dreadlock stylists in central Johannesburg said such is the demand for dreadlocks that few ask questions when the matted locks are offered for sale.
For clients wanting the extensions, the dreadlocks are either woven in individually using a thin crocheting hook or sewn together using a needle and thread. The process usually takes about two hours to complete and costs between R250 and R1500 depending on the length and thickness of the hair. Although more and more stories of dreadlock theft are coming to light, only one case was reported to the Durban central police station last year.
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. Dreadlock stylist Lebo Masimong said women were the most vulnerable. "You are an easy target if you walk around and your hair is loose. They don't care about your money or fancy phone. They are only after your hair."