31 July 2012

Zimbabwe: Human Trafficking Gang Busted

Photo: Tiggy Ridley/IRIN
File photo: The human trafficking syndicate is using Zimbabwe as a transit point to South Africa.

FORTY-ONE Bangladeshis, believed to be part of a human trafficking syndicate, have been arrested between Zimbabwe and Zambia as the two countries tighten the fight against the crime. Of the 41, 16 were arrested in Victoria Falls while the other 25 in Zambia last week.

The suspects are believed to be using the two countries as springboards to South Africa before going to various destinations in Europe.

Assistant regional immigration officer Mr Francis Mabika yesterday confirmed the arrests.

He said sometime last week they received information that there were some illegal immigrants who entered the country without the required documents.

"They were arrested and we discovered that some of them had entered using forged passports. Further investigations revealed that they were part of a human trafficking syndicate that is using Zimbabwe as a transit point to South Africa and we don't know the final destinations," Mr Mabika said.

The 16 have since been convicted and are serving 30 days in jail each.

Mr Mabika said most of these people were coming through Zambia and they communicate with their counterparts in the neighbouring country.

"Last Friday night, the Zambian officials arrested 25 more Bangladesh nationals who wanted to sneak into Zimbabwe and they are currently in custody," he said.

Mr Mabika said they would remain on high alert and will not hesitate to arrest anyone who enters into the country without the required documents. He said they would also continue to carry out operations in the country targeting foreigners, who are illegally staying in the country.

Several people both foreigners and locals have for the past few months been arrested for their involvement in human trafficking.

In August last year, police arrested a 32-year-old Bulawayo man for allegedly smuggling 21 children aged between one and 16 years into South Africa.

Kenias Mhlanga of Magwegwe West in Bulawayo is facing charges of human trafficking and facilitating illegal migration.

He allegedly took the children from Bulawayo to Johannesburg claiming to have been hired by their parents.

Mhlanga was arrested in South Africa while loading the children into his South African registered Toyota Quantum.

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