GOVERNMENT yesterday said more Zimbabwean women were stranded in Kuwait and require assistance to be repatriated home after they were lured to that country by a syndicate of human traffickers promising lucrative jobs. Victims in the well-knit scam believed to be involving Kuwait embassy staff in Harare were promised employment. On arrival in the tiny Arab country they were forced into prostitution and other menial jobs.
So far 15 women have been successfully brought home with the assistance of the Zimbabwe embassy in Kuwait. Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha yesterday confirmed that a large number of Zimbabwean women were still trapped in Kuwait although he did not give exact figures.
He said Government was doing everything in its power to assist the victims. Ambassador Bimha said it was possible that Zimbabweans could have fallen for the same hoax in other countries but there was no evidence to that effect yet.
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“Yes, we still have a number of people who need assistance in Kuwait,” said Ambassador Bimha. “I do not have the exact figures with me, I have to check with our embassy in Kuwait for the latest figures,” said Ambassador Bimha.
“So far we have only received information from Kuwait but we have about 45 diplomatic missions and it can be possible that some Zimbabweans have fallen victim to the same problem in other countries. “We will advise as and when we get more information.”
In a statement yesterday, the Foreign Affairs Ministry urged Zimbabweans to be wary of dubious scholarships and employment advertisements on the internet. The ministry said with regard to the Kuwait issue, the law would be implemented to the fullest to ensure that perpetrators were brought to book.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is greatly concerned with the recent reports coming from our embassy in the State of Kuwait and those appearing in the media regarding Zimbabweans who have been recruited for work or scholarships in the Middle East, were in the process, duped by human traffickers,” reads part of the statement.
“The ministry refers to Zimbabwe’s law (against human trafficking) Trafficking in Persons Chapter 9/25 of June 2014, on prohibition, prevention and prosecution of people involved in human tracking. This piece of legislation would be executed to its full potential so that perpetrators of this heinous crime face the full wrath of the law.”
The ministry said an inter-ministerial committee encompassing relevant stakeholders has been set up to probe all reports of human trafficking from Kuwait. It said all embassies were ready to assist Zimbabweans who might require assistance abroad.
So far seven people believed to be part of the human trafficking syndicate have appeared in court in connection with the human trafficking scam. 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. A Kuwait embassy staff, Brenda Avril May (62), also appeared in court over the same matter.