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FIFTEEN local women who were stranded in Kuwait have returned home, with a senior government official yesterday saying more people than previously thought, with over 150 still marooned in the Gulf state.
Warning members of public to be wary of people offering them jobs and scholarships to work or study overseas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that they must verify the authenticity and integrity of people or organisations recruiting them before they can travel out of the country.
The Ministry raised the alarm bells after about 200 Zimbabwean women were duped with offers of employment by human traffickers and are now stranded in Kuwait.
A number of people have been arrested in connection with the abuse of the women in Kuwait.
In an interview with our Harare Bureau, Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha yesterday confirmed that a large number of Zimbabwean women were still trapped in Kuwait although he did not give exact figures.
He said the government was doing everything in its capacity to assist the victims of human trafficking in Kuwait.
Ambassador Bimha said it was possible that Zimbabweans could have fallen to the same hoax in other countries but there was no evidence to that effect yet.
“Yes we still have a number of people who need assistance in Kuwait,” he said.
“I don’t have the exact figures with me, I’ve to check with our embassy in Kuwait for latest figures. So far we’ve only received information from Kuwait but we’ve about 45 diplomatic missions and it can be possible that some Zimbabweans have fallen victim to the same problem in other countries.
“We’ll advise as and when we get more information.”
In a statement earlier, his ministry said:
“The Ministry would like to advise all Zimbabweans offered seemingly lucrative job offers and generous educational opportunities to be extremely circumspect and verify the authenticity of those people or organisations before accepting to travel out of the country. Anything which seems to be too good to be true cannot be true.
The Ministry and our Embassies abroad stand ready to assist and advise all those who may require assistance. Any inquires can be communicated on the telephone numbers 04-794681 extension 271 or 194 and via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.”
It said Zimbabwe has a law against human trafficking, the Trafficking in Persons Act that became operational in June, 2014. The Act prohibits and provides for the prevention and prosecution of people involved in human trafficking.
“This piece of legislation would be executed to its full potential so that perpetrators of this heinous crime face full wrath of the law. There are a number of Zimbabwean women currently in Kuwait who are seeking assistance to come home. So far, about 15 women have been successfully brought back home,” said the Ministry.
It said the government had set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee, made up of all relevant authorities to come up with proposals for the short term and recommendations for the long term to further deal with human trafficking.
So far seven people believed to be part of the human trafficking syndicate have appeared in court in connection with the human trafficking scam.
The accused persons are Josephine Gondo, 57 and Tonderai Gondwa, 26, from Chitungwiza, Fadzai Nyahondo, 19, from Glen Norah and Edgar Muchineripi Gora, 33, from Waterfalls.
The other three are Lucia Chibayambuya, 26, and her brother Lawrence Chibayambuya, 23, and Faith Magora, all from Marondera.
A Kuwait embassy staffer Brenda Avril May, 62, also appeared in court over the same matter. Patient Sibanda Chronicle