Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter—
Seven people believed to be part of a well-organised human trafficking syndicate that is luring female job seekers to Kuwait on the pretext they have secured decent employment for them, when in actual fact they are selling them into prostitution and other menial jobs, appeared in court yesterday. It also emerged that upon arrival, the victims were placed under “house arrest” and were not paid salaries but the money was wired to the traffickers in Zimbabwe as payment.
Their Arabian accomplices would at times demand ransom from the victim’s families in order for them to release the women, mainly young ladies. The agents reportedly lied to the victims that they would be afforded an opportunity to further their education by their new “employers” in the oil-rich country.
The accused persons are Josephine Gondo (57) and Tonderai Gondwa (26) from Chitungwiza, Fadzai Nyahondo (19) from Glen Norah and Edgar Muchineripi Gora (33) from Waterfalls. The other three are Lucia Chibayambuya (26) and her brother Lawrence Chibayambuya (23) and Faith Magora, all from Marondera.
The gang appeared in court yesterday on different records charged with contravening sections of the Trafficking in Persons Act (Recruits, transfers, harbours or receives another person that he or she knows or suspects is being or is likely to be trafficked or attempts, assists or conspires with others for the commission of the crime of trafficking).
Harare magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo remanded the seven in custody to Monday next week for bail applications. They are being represented by Mr Batanai Pesanai of I.E.G Musimbe and Partners, Mr Willard Madzimbamuto of Nyikadzino, Simango and Partners and Mr Hardlife Tsuro of Chitewe Law Practice.
Prosecutor Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa alleges that on February 26, Gora misrepresented to Fiona Chikuvadze that there were vacancies in Kuwait and Dubai. He indicated to her that he would organise her travel arrangements.
She was told to go for medical examinations and police clearance, which she did and handed over the documents to Gora, who later gave the complainant her passport back with a visa and an air ticket. Gora was paid $300 for the recruitment by an agent in Kuwait identified as Haya Adel Abdul Razaq Ismail Al-Kazal .
It is the State’s case that upon arrival in Kuwait, Al-Kazal confiscated Chikuvadze’s travel documents and told her that she should comply with his orders. Al-Kazal later took her to an unidentified man’s house where he was paid $2 500 for bringing the woman to him.
According to the State, the woman was placed under house arrest and was not allowed to talk to anyone while she worked as a maid. Without getting into detail, she was abused and denied food and other basic needs.
She managed to make a phone call to her mother back home and narrated her ordeal and when the abuser got to know that she had contacted her family, he then demanded a ransom of $1 600 to facilitate her release.
Sometime in January, the accused persons – Gondo, Gondwa and Nyahondo – allegedly approached the complainants (names not supplied) and misrepresented to them that they could secure jobs for them as waitresses in Kuwait through Tinashe Nyahondo, a resident in Kuwait whom they claimed was an employment agent.
The complainants were instructed by Tinashe to go for medical examinations after they had been connected to him by the accused persons. They were ordered to forward the medical certificates to Nyahondo through the WhatsApp platform.
The State further alleged that the victims travelled to Kuwait between January and March and were received by Nyahondo. He allegedly took them to different “employers” where they worked as “slaves”, without any payment.
Nyahondo was paid by the “employers” for bringing the women to them. Using the same method, Magora, Lucia and Lawrence reportedly “recruited” Sifikhile Chitekuteku, Fortunate Gwariwa, Fungai Mataba and Audrey Chinake.
The quartet travelled to Kuwait and were received by an agent identified as David Santas, who confiscated their travel documents before distributing them to different men in Kuwait. The victims are currently held hostage in Kuwait and efforts are being made to bring them back home, the court heard.