11 March 2016

Zimbabwe: Seven Human Trafficking Agents in Court, Victims Still Held Hostage in Kuwait

Photo: The Herald
Detectives escort seven suspects believed to be part of a human trafficking syndicate.

SEVEN notorious human trafficking agents who traded several young Zimbabwean girls to Kuwait and Dubai where they are working as household slaves were dragged to Harare magistrates' court Friday.

The agents include Josephine Gondo, 57, of Chitungwiza, Tonderai Morris Gondwa, 26, also from Chitungwiza, Fadzai Nyahondo, 19 from Glen Norah, Lucia Chibayambuya, 26 and her brother Lawrence,23, as well as Faith Magora, 57. The latter three hail from Marondera.

One Muchineripi Gora has also been arrested over the allegations.

Gondo, Gondwa and Nyahondo were said to be working in cahoots with Tinashe Nyahondo, who stays in Kuwait and is still at large while the other three were working under the instruction of one Haya Adel Abdul Razaq Ismael Aj-Kazal.

Four victims have been named and the police are yet to make extra territorial investigations in Kuwait to find more victims.

Amid claims that some 200 local women could have been sold to into slavery police have warned Zimbabweans to be cautious with offers of employment abroad.

"We would like to urge the public, especially the youths, not to respond to such advertisements because they will be risking their lives because they will end up being slaves in foreign countries," said police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba.

Court heard Gondo and Gondwa approached complainants whose names have not yet been revealed and introduced them to Nyahondo who is based in Kuwait.

The two then told the victims that Nyahondo was an employment agent and could help them secure jobs as house maids in Kuwait.

They further advised the victims that Nyahondo would process their visas as well as their air fares.

The victims then communicated with Nyahondo who advised them to get in touch with his sister, Fadzai, who assisted them to get police clearance and medical examinations in Harare.

Fadzai then told the victims to forward their police clearance and medical reports to Nyahondo using the WhatsApp mobile messenger platform.

Nyahondo then sent the victims air tickets and on January 28 and the girls travelled to Kuwait where they met him at Kuwait international airport.

However, contrary to what they had been promised, the complainants were taken to various employers where they are virtually working as household slaves.

The victims however managed to contact relatives back in Zimbabwe who in turn reported the case to the police leading to the arrest of the trio.

State opposed granting of bail as investigations are still ongoing.

Court heard police want to interview the suspects about several people they have allegedly trafficked to Kuwait.

State also argued that the three were a flight risk as they have connections outside the country.

The other culprit, Gora is accused of trafficking Fiona Chikuvadze to Kuwait where she was handed over to an employer who subjected her slavery.

Court heard Chikuvadze got an opportunity and phoned her mother informing her of the abuse.

The mother made frantic efforts to have her daughter released to no avail. She ended up pleading with Gora's accomplices in Kuwait who demanded $1,500 to release her daughter.

The mother later reported the case to the police, leading to Gora's arrest.

Prosecutors say Chikuvadze is still in Kuwait where she is being assisted by the Zimbabwean embassy and is expected to be back home soon.

Other victims allegedly trafficked by Chibayambuya and Magora include Sifikhile Chitekuteku, Fortunate Gwariwa, Fungai Mataba and Audrey Chinake.

Court heard they are still in Kuwait where efforts are being made to bring them back to Zimbabwe.

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