Saturday, August 18, 2012

Police burst sex slavery racket

Police has made inroads in investigating Uganda’s burgeoning sex trade, after arresting a woman suspected of having brokered several girls into the crime – and a witchdoctor alleged to have ‘cleansed’ the transaction. The woman, Aida Lubega, and the witchdoctor, Musa Kitumwa, both residents of Kibuli, were arrested on August 10.

Lubega is believed to be a sister to Yahaya Senabulya, also suspected of involvement in trafficking girls abroad. Senabulya is suspected to have led to the death of a Ugandan girl in Malaysia, forcing him to go into hiding in India.

“We have been looking for this woman for a very long time, but she was elusive. Her arrest is a big one. She will lead us to many others,” said a police detective who requested anonymity.

Lubega’s arrest follows that of another woman, Faith Karongo (alias Nnalongo, Naturinda, Mulinde and Natukunda) in July (see, Top sex slave dealer nabbed). Karongo is currently on remand in Luzira, pending the hearing of her case. She was charged with two counts of trafficking in persons and aggravated trafficking in persons. The capital offence carries a life sentence. Aida Lubega is to be charged with the same offence.

Whereas Karongo was the one who received new recruits in China before they would be sent to Senabulya’s base in Malaysia, Lubega’s role was to identify the gullible girls in Uganda. The girls would be deceived that they were being taken to do lucrative jobs in China and Malaysia.

Once identified and persuaded, the girls would be taken to Kibuli where Lubega introduced them to the witchdoctor, Musa Kitumwa, for cleansing.

Harrowing tale
An e-mail from one of the victims currently wallowing in Malaysia tells of a harrowing experience.
“In Uganda is one lady called Aida who used to convince girls how good [Senabulya] is, the good jobs they are going to do...You first pay her Shs 500,000 before connecting you to Senabulya. After that she takes you to a witchdoctor where you also pay money,” wrote one of the victims, whose identity is concealed to protect her privacy.

The victim continues that after the cleansing exercise, supervised by Lubega, the journey from Uganda starts with India as the first destination where the girls link up. It’s here, she says, that Faith Karongo reveals to them the nature of work they are to engage in.

“When you reach there,” the victim narrates, “the lady first takes the passport from you. This woman is harsh and brutal to the girls. She tells them that they never came there to sleep; they came to look for money for the ticket from China. The next destination is Malaysia, the final destination.”

After a week in India, the girls are flown to China for a couple of days. Some remain there, but this particular victim was one of those that went further to Malaysia where they met Senabulya at the airport.

“Yahaya welcomed us at the airport as our boss. After, he took us somewhere to stay. There, I found 10 girls staying in one house. Other girls kept on coming. They used to bring new girls,” she revealed.
The victim also outlined the strict regulations Senabulya issued, including commanding the girls to ‘work’ even during their periods. During interrogation, whereas Musa Kitumwa admitted to being a witchdoctor, he denied being part of the human trafficking racket.

Lubega also denied involvement, saying her only relationship is being a brother to Yahaya. The Observer couldn’t get a comment from them as they were swiftly whisked away into the cells of the Special Investigations Unit at Kireka. Meanwhile, the police are also hunting for one Acleo Kalainga, believed to be a trafficker targeting mainly male youths for export to South Africa and Lesotho.

Kalainga, managing director of Bwaise-based Linyaa Marketing Agency, is reported to have jumped bail granted by the Buganda Road Magistrate’s court on June 14, 2012. Kalainga and Amiti Joyce Mary had been jointly charged with trafficking in persons. The suspects are accused of using some Kampala publications such as The Evangelist and The Exposition to lure male youth through advertisements that promise jobs in South Africa.

The youth are charged between Shs 150,000 and Shs 200,000 to have their passports and visas processed. According to the police, Kalainga also charges his victims Shs 2.3 million for transport through Dar es Salaam, Lusaka and then South Africa where they meet an agent.

What alerted the police to this racket was the case of two youth who got stranded in the Malawian capital of 
Blantyre and were turned away by the authorities. They had been promised jobs in South African hotels and security companies. The police believe these youth were being trafficked because other known cases have followed a similar route and pattern.

To curb the rampant trafficking, the authorities have introduced background checks on girls travelling abroad. Before they are let through the immigration desk, girls suspected of being trafficked are to have their passports, travel documents and destinations scrutinised by the human trafficking section in the Special 

Investigations Unit.
Phone calls are then made to the parents of the girls, their hosts in the countries of destination, as well as other background searches before they can be cleared.

Source: The Observer

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