Trafficking case: Kuwait embassy official nabbed

Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
POLICE over the weekend arrested a Kuwaiti senior embassy official believed to be part of a well-organised human trafficking syndicate that is luring female job seekers to Kuwait on the pretext that they have secured decent employment, when, in actual fact, they are being sold into prostitution and other menial jobs.

Brenda Avril May (62), a secretary at the Kuwait Embassy in Harare, is suspected to have been facilitating or processing visas for the victims, who are now stuck in the Arab Emirate.

The Herald last week broke the story of over 200 Zimbabwean women being stranded in Kuwait after being promised jobs.

According to sources close to investigations, May was released yesterday and “the police will proceed by a way of summons, if need be”.

A source from the Prosecutor-General’s Office said there were certain procedures that the police should comply with before summoning an embassy official to court.

Detectives handling the case picked her up for questioning after she had been implicated as the one facilitating the documentation of the desperate job seekers and payment processes.

Police yesterday confirmed the arrest saying investigations were still in progress.

Meanwhile, seven locals, who appeared in court last week on charges of human trafficking, were yesterday released on $300 bail each.

As part of their bail conditions, Mr Elijah Makomo ordered them to surrender their passports and to report to the police once a week.

They were also ordered not to interfere with witnesses and investigations, and to reside at their given addresses until the matter is finalised.

Mr Makomo remanded them to April 7.

The State, led by Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa, opposed bail and called the investigating officer, Detective Constable Wellington Chadenga, who gave evidence in support of refusal of bail.

Det Cnst Chadenga opposed bail on the basis that there were extra-territorial investigations which were being conducted in Kuwait.

He said if granted bail, the gang was likely to interfere with witnesses and investigations.

He further said they are likely to face additional charges.

“Your Worship, the accused persons are facing a serious offence which calls for a prison term when convicted hence they are likely to abscond if granted bail. There are several victims whom accused persons have access to and our fears are that they might interfere with these witnesses.

“We are receiving several reports through our embassy; these accused persons are likely to face additional charges,” he said.

Mr Batanai Pesanai, who is representing Lucia Chibayambuya (26) and her brother Lawrence Chibayambuya (23) and Faith Magora, argued that his clients were proper candidates for bail.

He said the seriousness of an offence on its own was not sufficient to deny an accused person bail.

He also said that an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“Your Worship, the State’s case is weak and these are mere speculations based on hearsay. The State’s fears could be allayed by the stringent bail conditions,” he said.

Mr Willard Madzimbamuto and Mr Hardlife Tsuro, who are representing Josephine Gondo (57), Tonderai Gondwa (26), Fadzai Nyahondo (19) and Edgar Gora, also argued that their clients were not a flight risk but suitable candidates for bail.

“The State case is hopeless and has been rushed before investigations.

“There are no complainants. The accused persons are not a flight risk. Evidence at hand shows that they have been co-operating with the police,” Mr Madzimbamuto said.

It is the State’s case that upon arrival in Kuwait, 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 gang is charged with contravening sections of the Trafficking 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).

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  • Muzezuru

    People arrested for insulting the first lady pay $500 bail while people traffickers pay $300 bail?

    • Chief Legal Adviser

      The bail conditions are not based on mathematics, you unconquerable! Your question fall away.

  • robzam

    Whilst not condoning the actions of this embassy official, the police should be aware that without the sponsoring government waivering diplomatic immunity, they cannot arrest an embassy official. They should have gone through foreign affairs to try and get waiver from the Kuwait government.

    • Chief Legal Adviser

      You are worried about the diplomatic whatever . not the cruel scandal? Your devil bless you!

      • joey

        cme on however bad the crime proper channels shd be followed jus like you cant kill a thief because you caught him stealing at your own house you will end up in jail yourself

  • Brian

    Well done Zim police

  • yowe

    I really hope the people stuck in that country get help. Uganda also banned its citizens from taking these jobs in Saudi Arabia. Sadly we are too poor to do anything vanhu vatambura

  • Dhara dee

    Some time last year i heard a certain lady giving a testimony on radio that after a certain prophet had prayed for her she was offered a job in Kuwait and so she was just thanking the man of God for the prayers and anointing. I am just hopping hope she is not part of the 200 otherwise a lot of questions will be raised about that prophet.

  • Hacha Duke of Enkeldoorn

    Morden day slavery. These old vices refuse to go away.

  • mellisa

    they state here : “senior embassy official” and “secretary” which in diplomatic hierarchy, 1st, 2nd and 3rd secretaries are diplomats and yes they have diplomatic immunity. If she is an administrative secretary, then she has limited diplomatic immunity. But then with the crime stated, whether she has full immunity or limited, she stands to be declared a “persona non-grata”..

  • robzam

    Have you taken time to ask yourself why they released her without preferring any charges? They simply realised they had to follow proper protocol, hence they are face saving by saying they will proceed by way of summons.

  • robzam

    What is your point? Is she not a Kuwait diplomat?

  • robzam

    I do sympathise with your position and equally feel the same, however, the dictates of international law in regards to diplomatic immunity makes a mockery of this otherwise very serious case. Whether this evil woman will be brought to book for her offences depends on the co-operation of the Kuwait government.

  • Emru Kunanti

    Vakuru vedu vakasiya vataura, “Gonzo gara mumhango, chinouya chikuwaniremo”…..Emigration is not always the solution. Vazhinji are achieving their dreams varimo muno. Its all about adapting to the situation.