Have I Been Conned

A knock on my office door, a Deaf man, indicating by his hand movements that he is looking for a “typing” place. I immediately assumed that he must be looking for the publishers next door and direct him swiftly.

For the rest of the morning, whilst in a meeting, my thoughts kept drifting to my brief interaction with this man.

A few hours later, whilst ending yet another meeting, I spot this same man outside a local business. I quickly excused myself and approached him, “are you lost, do you need help?”. Handing me a letter, and after reading it, I invite him into the print shop, which happens to be owned by my colleague, to continue our conversation.

According to his letter, he arrived in Muizenberg yesterday from an institution for the Deaf in Knysna. Unfortunately, upon his arrival, he was informed that his aunt no longer lives in the country. He was robbed and spent the night at SAPS where they are keeping his bags while he tries to solicit donations to pay for his trip back to Knysna.

My interest tweaked, concerned about this well dressed young and “vulnerable” Deaf person roaming the streets, I quickly grabbed my diary and asked him to give me the number of his contact person at the institution in Knysna. Here’s our written converstation:

Him: 071053xxxx Peter Camfort, Knysna AB
Me:  Office number
Him: I will bring it is in my bag
Me: My son and dad is deaf as well. I work with parents of deaf children, but we don’t sign. (He Smiles and signs thank you and something else). I will see if I can help you but need to speak to someone at the school in Knysna.
Him:  I will bring the Agenda.
Me: I’m going to a meeting quickly but please come back and wait for me here.
Him: 30 minutes (and he gets up and leaves)

Having have kept my colleague waiting, I explained this man’s situation during our meeting. “If his story is true, then I will take him home with me tonight”. Our wicked sense of humour had us laughing, me taking a strange man home! Yikes!

But then we got back to the seriousness of the situation and he asked me how do I intend to help him? “I don’t know, one step at a time, I’ll figure it out once I’ve validated his story”.

45 Minutes later I arrived at the print shop to find an empty chair, he’s not been back…I then went to my office and decided to call the Knysna contact person. Someone answered, he verified his name. When I asked for the institution/school’s name, this person drew a blank. This man said he will call me back in 5 minutes, I’m still waiting! I then called SAPS to enquire about the story given to me by the Deaf person.

After speaking to four people at the Police Station, identifying myself and the situation, I had the commitment from one of the Captains that they would check their incident book and ask around. Ten minutes later I received a call back, “Sorry Mam, no incidents were reported yesterday involving a Deaf man, and from the robberies reported, none were in Muizenberg”.

I thanked the Captain for his follow up and the service, and asked him to please be aware that this person may be using SAPS as a cover to solicit money.  This Captain, sounding as concerned as me, then said perhaps the man was referring to the train station and not the police station…

On a mission, I enquired with the staff at the train station. No one could verify this man’s presence at the station nor have they been approached to keep anyone’s bags.

Typing this I am still worried about this young Deaf man. Is he a con artist, pretending to be Deaf, or is he a Deaf con artist? Did something happen to him or is he just a lying scum bag??

So, Andre Vuyo, if this is your real name. You, the African gentleman, well dressed, beige hearing aid on your left ear, acrylic ear mold that doesn’t quite fit snug in your ear, you who communicate through sign language. If I see you in the area tomorrow, and you still spinning the same story then I am going to GIRL PUNCH YOU!

How dare you go around exploiting your disability, if you are in fact Deaf! How dare you play on well meaning people’s kindness? Here I am thinking of ways to get you back home, wondering if your hearing aid still works. Wondering when last you had a hearing test and why you never confirmed with your aunt that she is in fact still living in the area. Here I am phoning around trying to verify your story while you walk the streets flicking your hands and fingers, unable to speak, yet you are well versed in the art of manipulation! HOW FREAKING DARE YOU!!! IN MY HEAD I AM PUNCHING YOU RIGHT NOW!!!

If I see you again, I will follow you and make sure you get what’s coming to you; YOUR ASS IS GOING TO SPEND THE NIGHT IN JAIL! Do you have any idea how many Deaf/deaf/hearing impaired/hard of hearing people are out there who REALLY NEED HELP?

It is because of people like you, Andre Vuyo, if this is your real name, that people are so hesitant to help those who REALLY NEED THE HELP.

I extended a helping hand and in return you make me feel like I have shit for brains, falling for your lies! You may just as well have used my hands to wipe your arse!

People, be aware, always try to verify stories of people who approach you with long stories like this. I am really grateful to SAPS for taking the time to help me verify the validity of this sh&%heads story…I followed up, because I was concerned, not because I suspected foul play, but now I know better!