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‘I was sleeping less than 2hrs’

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By Matthews Kasanda 

 

What she thought was a great opportunity for her to earn a decent living ended up being a nightmare for her.

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The 32-year-old lady, whom we shall name Aggie, is a survivor of an alleged human trafficking.

 

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She told her story in court on Friday.

 

First, she was told that she would be heading to Dubai. And the job opportunity was to be a fuel attendant.

 

She ended up in Oman where she worked as a house maid.

 

The job as a house maid turned out to be the nightmare of her life. She was working for a 63-member family.

 

She was sleeping less than two hours a night — usually between 1am and 3am.

 

Within the same two hours, her male boss would sometimes come to her room and forcibly have anal sex with her.

 

Apart from house chores, she was also supposed to wash cars in the compound and clean up the area.

 

According to the evidence she tendered before the court, a lady, Tinenenji Nsaku, fixed her trip.

In her testimony in court, Aggie said before her departure on April 1 2022, there were a series of preparations. They included her paying K100, 000 which her alleged trafficker assured she would get upon arrival in Dubai as pocket money with which to start her new life.

 

She alleged being referred to a number of officers to get all the clearances — starting from a Covid-19 certificate, a medical report that included HIV status and a police clearance.

 

The departure day arrived when she took the first ever flight in her life.

 

It was while she was in Addis Ababa that she learnt she was heading to Oman, not Dubai, she said.

 

During cross-examination, Aggie admitted to have received her house maid’s work permit on the night before the departure day.

 

But she said she did not read it.

 

“We were busy and engaged in thinking of boarding a plane,” she told the court that was fully packed with suspects’ sympathisers.

 

When she arrived in Oman, her passport and mobile phone were confiscated.

 

She started working for 63 people staying in a 3-storey building where her duties included cleaning the whole house and rooms.

 

“Even when I was tired or sick, I was still supposed to work. I was just being given panado [pain killer],” she told the court.

 

She could wash and iron clothes for all the family members.

 

Her salary was an equivalent of K167, 000 per month — not the K390,000 which her traffickers had promised before she left the country.

 

“Anandiuza kuti uzigwira ntchito ya m’yumba ndipo ndizikugona chifukwa ndalipira [The boss told me that I would be working as a house maid and that he would be having sex with me because he had paid for it]” she told the court.

 

Aggie added that there was a time when several men came to her room wanting to have sex with her. She declined.

 

That made her boss angry.

 

According to her, before leaving Malawi, her trafficker had told her that she had an office in Dubai, but advised her not to reveal this to the police that she was heading to Dubai.

 

She further claimed that the suspect is the one who had been sending her electronic travel documents through WhatsApp.

 

The papers included an air ticket, a visa and a work permit.

 

She claimed that she found an opportunity to escape on July 5 when all the family members she was working for had gone for prayers.

 

 

A relative of the family who had come to visit assisted her to get back her passport from where it was kept and helped her escape.

 

One of the suspects’ lawyers, Ayuba James, who cross-examined Aggie told the court that at a later stage the défence would make three applications.

 

One would be that the defence send an independent investigator to Oman to gather facts that would be used in cross examining the witness.

 

Another application would be that an independent medical doctor examines the victim for her claims that she was sexually assaulted.

 

“The purpose is to balance the information that has been put on the record and [of another] doctor who suggest that the witness is physically traumatised because of persistent abuse in the anal part of the body,” Ayuba told reporters.

 

The third application would be a preservation order for the police gadgets that were used to record the alleged victim’s finger prints since she claimed that she was not recorded.

 

The case has been adjourned to October 10 this year.

 

Last week, Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule indicated that scores of Malawians were trapped in Oman.

 

A total of eight people suspected to have played various roles in facilitating her journey are currently appearing before Chief Resident Magistrate Madalitso Chimwaza.

 

Seven of them are under police custody while one is on bail.

 

The suspects include a medical officer at Kamuzu Central Hospital, three police officers, an immigration officer and a person who allegedly operates an illegal employment agency in Mangochi.

 

Malawi is named as a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and for sexual exploitation to the Gulf region countries such as Dubai, Qatar, Oman and Pakistan.

 

Malawi enacted the Trafficking In Persons Act (2015) in fulfilment of the country’s commitment as a party to the United Nations Conventions against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC).

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