(Un)Common Woman - Zambia’s Biggest Bank Heist

With the world edging towards a cosmopolitan society, entertainment is seen to be one of the pillars shaping culture around the world. From music having a more unified voice globally, to fashion being recognised worldwide, people influence and get influenced by media. On a peculiar note, blockbuster movies have also been seen to shape behaviour in today’s society. The following article highlights a story from Lusaka, Zambia, that seems to be something taken from a Hollywood set, or better yet, a Nollywood blockbuster hit!

 Meet Pamela Gondwe, before her raise to notoriety, she was an employee of Barclays Bank, Zambia. A simple browse through her social media accounts, paints a picture of an independent woman, paving her way to achieve her dreams. She comes across as motivational, strong, confident and intelligent.

 On the third of June, 2019, Pamela Gondwe carried out Zambia’s biggest bank heist - yes, bank heist. She walked away with 400,000 US dollars (K7 million) from the vault.

 Unlike a scene from Hell or High Water, Pamela did not use excessive force or weapons to carry out this heist. She successfully walked out of the bank with literally, ‘a bag full of cash’. According to multiple news outlets in the country, Pamela carefully carried out this bank job. She had submitted her resignation two weeks before she robbed the bank. After doing that, she placed an empty bag in the vault, assuring her workmates it was just a bag, lowering suspicion. On the fateful day, she distracted her workmates with food, sending them to the office canteen. This gave her enough time to fill up her bag. Assuming adrenaline got the better of her, her plan was not foolproof. She locked her part of the vault (the vault needed two people with two different keys to completely lock it) and told her fellow employees that she had a hair appointment she needed to get to. She then quickly left the bank through the back door and was never seen. Her peculiar behaviour alarmed her workmates and they quickly double checked the vault and their horror soon became a reality. (Un)fortunately, Pamela had left her cellphone in the vault and the CCTV cameras had caught the whole thing.

 Once the story broke, Pamela became an instant social media heroine. People praised her act and raced to her social media platform to congratulate her. People used her motivational quotes as captions, highlighting that she is a mastermind that deserved this infamous victory. The comic relief found in the story somewhat proves that the lines of good and bad have been blurred in today’s culture and it is sometimes fun to see the villain come up on top.

 Pamela is reportedly still at large.

Luyando Nyoni @luwi_vc