Zimbabweans in UK caught up in human trafficking

25 Jul, 2020 - 00:07 0 Views

The Herald

Many people have left Zimbabwe with one aim, to work for their families. The world over, people are moving up and down.

The grass is always green in another pan. Humanity is never satisfied with what they have, as a result they stretch their hands as wide as possible so they can grab as much wealth as they can.

Those who left Zimbabwe and settled in the UK, realised that they cannot afford a maid so they have gone back home and brought their sisters, cousins and anyone who is willing and employed them as maids.

The biggest problem is that the poor maids are treated in a torturous manner. Torture is deliberate inhumane treatment, causing serious and cruel suffering. This suffering may be mental, physical or a combination of the two.

Treatment must reach an intense level of severity in order to qualify as torture. Most Zimbabweans have treated their kin in a very devastating emotional way once they drag them out of their comfort zone.

Inhuman treatment causes “intense physical and mental suffering”. Degrading treatment arouses in the victim a feeling of fear, anguish and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing the victim and possibly breaking his or her physical or moral resistance.

You might think that slavery is something you only read about in history books. You might even think that this is fiction and not real. Unfortunately, the sad and shocking truth is that slavery exists today, both in our country and around the world.

The new slavery regime is known now as human trafficking, and it is a growing evil of major proportions, making an enormous amount of money for those who enslave mostly those who are taken from Zimbabwe as domestic workers. It is difficult to determine an exact number due to the relations and illegal nature of the activity, but sadly, not much has been done to raise any awareness on human trafficking or taken appropriate steps to eliminate this evil.

This evil is prevalent among Zimbabweans in the UK who bring their relatives from Zimbabwe, make them work as housemaids for no pay and dump them once their children are grown up.

Zimbabweans in the UK have increasingly smuggled people through the Republic of Ireland. Trafficking is done by giving false pretences of employment or tourism. The most affected group is the people from low-income backgrounds and ‘simple-minded’ people. Zimbabweans are being trafficked to the UK for cheap labour, especially in the house keeping industry. Mostly women have fallen victim after being promised greener pastures in England. Little do they know that they are jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

Zimbabwean survivors of human trafficking are now sharing their heart rending stories. Whether ensnared by force, coercion or deception, the victims have lived in limbo, fear and pain. It has been difficult to get exact numbers of victims but the majority of detected trafficking victims are young women and very old women who are now known as vana gogo vepamba. Zimbabwean trafficked and trapped women came out to tell their stories. Gogo Chaitezvi left Zimbabwe when she was 57. She was asked by her sister’s daughter to come to the UK and look after the children.

She was assured that she would be paid 750 pounds sterling a month for being a housemaid.

“Being my sister’s child who had invited me and that she did the visa application and paid for the ticket, I found it worthwhile to come to England. I was over the moon,” said gogo Chaitezvi.   “On arrival in England, all seemed well. But the very day she took my passport and said she was keeping it safe, that was the last time I saw my passport.”

Life immediately took a turn for the worst. Gogo was not allowed to talk to anybody or open a bank account. She was not allowed to have a contract phone line and the phone she was given was only to be answered if its from her bosses.

She lived the life of a slave.

When she asked for her pay, she was told that the first two years she would be working to pay back the costs of her travel. She protested and argued that this was not part of the arrangement and was simply told to work or get deported. Everyday gogo was threatened with deportation when she asked for her money. A plane ticket from Zimbabwe is only 500 pounds.

The visa application for a visitor is 90 pounds. And gogo was asked to work for two years to pay back 590 pounds. She was not allowed to go out to church or any gatherings. This modern-day slave owner is a nurse and a continually active member of a Pentecostal Church. She makes sure she will not allow church members to interact with gogo. Gogo was in a prison at home.

Mandie, another Zimbabwean victim of abuse, had a horrific story to tell. She recalls: “They held us in an apartment and took away our passports. They told us that we would be photographed again for our new employment documents and be registered as waitresses. It felt strange, but we believed them.

“Then, Mandie and the other women were put on a plane to the Republic of Ireland. On arrival, they were asked to find their way into England. It was easy to walk across the border, it is an open border, once you are in Northern Ireland you are in England. You either walk into a ferry from Northern Ireland or a flight which takes one hour.

“When I got to England, I was to go and stay with a man who was said to be the owner of the agency seeking employment for us.” I would be sent to do various jobs in England by the agency owner who happened to be Zimbabwean. Since I had no passport, I was told my wages would be deposited into the account of the agent.

“We were not allowed to be sick. On this day, I got a terrible headache and failed to wake up in the next morning for work. I was fired. I got chased away from the house into the streets, ashamed and unemployed. I then had to work in the sex industry until I was approached by an organisation that assists women subjected to sex and trafficking. They offered me work. I wasn’t sure that I would fit in, but slowly I began to trust them,” she said.  The organisation assisted Mandie; she got to stay and remain in the UK legally.

Mathew Khumalo was lured into England by his schoolgirl darling. It all seemed rosy and romantic. Few days in England things started to change, Mathew was noticing signs of disrespect, the darling angel started challenging him. If there is one thing a man hates is to see his manly authority being eroded by his wife because of money.

Mathew would be reminded that if he did not listen the lady would not renew his visa. If he tried to say something he would be reminded about the visa.

Life in the UK for men who had their visa’s attached to their wives was hell on earth. Mathew was thrown out of the matrimonial home and relegated to the streets. His punishment was that he had questioned why his wife spends time on the phone with other men.

The trip to England has always been overrated, but the reality is painful and indeed humiliating.  –[email protected]

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