THE Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday set free 14 people who were charged with transporting people with disabilities from various parts and turn them street beggars to earn income.
Principal Resident Magistrate Kassian Matembele discharged the accused persons after receiving a nolle prosequi certificate entered by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) under section 91 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) to discontinue the trial against them.
Nolle prosequi is legal Latin meaning "to be unwilling to pursue". It is used for prosecutors' declarations that they are voluntarily ending a criminal case before trial or before a verdict is rendered.
Such a declaration may be made because the charges cannot be proved because vital witnesses have become unavailable or uncooperative, the evidence is too weak to prove or the evidence is fatally flawed in light of the claims that are brought.
In the certificate presented by Senior State Attorney Wankyo Simon, the DPP explained that he would not further prosecute the accused persons for offences they were charged with, including money laundering, failure to pay tax and causing 31m/- loss to the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).
The discharged accused persons are Yusuph Mbuani, Joseph Magadu, Emmanuel Salu, Gogad Mayenga, Samson Akunahai, Hussein John, Zacharias Paul, Dotto Shigula, Petro Simon, Emmanuel Sahani, Joseph Mathias, Massanja Paul, Aminiel Sangu and Emmanuel Lushinge alias Salimu.
They were facing 41 counts including one being a leading organised crime, 37 others involves transportation of the disabled and subjecting them to involuntary street begging for the purpose of earning revenue.
Initially, the accused persons were charged alongside a 71-year-old Dar es Salaam businessman Sadikiely Meta, whose case was abated after he died while in detention.
He was alleged to be the owner of a guest house that was used to house the disabled people, most of them children.
The arraignment of the accused came after Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for the disabled Ummy Nderiananga made an impromptu visit to various parts of Dar es Salaam where she found people with disabilities were kept in guest houses by people allegedly using them for their own gain.
Dar es Salaam and other major cities in the country have witnessed an increased tendency whereby people accompany the disabled people on their wheelchairs, particularly children with autism, to beg in the streets.
Section 4 (1)(a) (b) and sections 6(1) (2) (a) of The Anti-Trafficking in Person Act of 2008 criminalizes recruitment, transportation and harbouring of a person for, among other things, involuntary servitude, prostitution and forced labour.
Such offences are considered as severe trafficking in person if the trafficked person is a child or a disabled person and the adoption is effected for the purpose of forced labour and involuntary servitude.
Mr Meta and co-accused were alleged to have transported to Dar es Salaam about 37 disabled including children of between seven and 11 years from Tabora and Shinyanga and turned them into street baggers for personal gain.