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Bogus employment agent exposed

Rejoice Makoni Herald Correspondent

Desperate job-seekers risk losing money to a bogus recruiting agent promising them housemaid jobs in the Middle East and Europe, in what might turn up to be a human trafficking scam.

Operating from a modest car garage at a house in Greendale, Harare, and unregistered by the Government, the Participatory Approaches Consulting Services (PACS) are advertising for Zimbabweans willing to work in Qatar.

Undercover investigations by The Herald show that the organisation is not registered as required by law, and is circumventing required processes and procedure.

In an undercover interview, a man who was at the PACS office said they needed 100 people to go to Qatar by mid-October, each of them paying US$600 administration fees.

“We want people from the age of 20 to 32 with a cleaning background. People are expected to go as soon as mid-October and we need a CV that is tailored to cleaning, a passport and an ‘O’ Level certificate which is only needed as proof of school attendance.

“As soon as your documents are in place, you will be called for an interview. Our clients provide the visa but one has to pay US$500 for administration fees and $70 for medical examination. One will be paid a salary of $357 per month and will sign a two-year contract. They will also provide transport allowances and health insurance. We also facilitate for engineers to Ireland and interns to Europe for a fee of US$1 300.”

Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare director for employment services and promotion, Ms Maureen Dhliwayo, said PACS was not registered as a recruiting agent.

“PACS representative came with their letter on the 21st of this month and the letter had a signature on the back of the paper where there was nothing written which is not the correct format. They failed to produce their clearance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which permits them to recruit people for foreign jobs,” she said.

“They also failed to produce names of companies that required workers for us to verify if the jobs being offered are legitimate.”

It is not clear if anyone had already paid to secure the “job”.  Ms Dhliwayo encouraged the public to consult her office for verification of foreign jobs.

Zimbabwe has been recording an increase in cases of human trafficking, with 139 people known to have fallen victim to the criminal enterprise while seeking jobs abroad.

Last year, the country saw an upsurge in cases of trafficking in persons, both local and transnational.

Sixty-nine cases of trafficking in persons involving 139 victims were recorded and investigated.

Seven accused persons, who are all Zimbabweans, were arrested for trafficking in persons.  Of the seven accused persons, four were arrested for Oman cases while three were arrested for domestic trafficking cases. Four accused persons who were linked to the Oman trafficking cases were arrested and they are being prosecuted.

The majority of human trafficking victims were recruited through social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook groups after being offered lucrative employment opportunities, only for them to be kept in de facto slavery upon arrival in the countries where “jobs” were offered.

The plight of the women came to light in 2016, prompting the Government to order a comprehensive investigation and to rescue them.

Last year, it emerged that scores of women were trafficked to Oman to work as domestic workers under deplorable conditions including being paid between US$60 to US$80 per month.

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