Zimbabwean police officer, niece convicted for trafficking women to Oman


HARARE  – The Harare Magistrates Court convicted a suspended police officer and his niece for trafficking three women to Oman, where they were forced to work as sex slaves.

Human trafficking Zimbabwe police and niece convicted for trafficking women to Oman to be sex slaves
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Forward Mashonganyika, a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officer, and Tendai Muswe – the latter who is already serving a three-year term for a similar offence – were convicted by Harare regional magistrate Estere Chivasa after a full trial.

Chivasa said the state had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and that the three women were credible witnesses.

She said Mashonganyika and Muswe deceived the women into believing they were flying to Dubai to work in hotels and restaurants, but instead took them to Oman, where they were enslaved, assaulted, denied food and salaries, sexually abused and eventually deported.

The court also heard evidence from the investigating officer, who presented documents showing that Mashonganyika and Muswe received money from a man named Mohamed Ali in Oman.

Chivasa did not immediately announce the sentences for the two convicts, but said they would be handed down on Friday.

Some context on human trafficking

Human trafficking is a serious problem in Zimbabwe, where many people are lured by false promises of jobs and education abroad, only to end up in exploitative situations.

The U.S. Department of State's 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report evaluates the efforts of 188 countries and territories, including Zimbabwe, to combat human trafficking. 

The report assigns each country a tier ranking based on whether they meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, as defined by the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

And Zimbabwe is ranked as a Tier 2 Watch List country—meaning that it does not fully meet the minimum standards.

The report notes that Zimbabwe did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, and that it has a very large number of victims of severe forms of trafficking.

The report identifies the main challenges and gaps in Zimbabwe's anti-trafficking response, and these include: the lack of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law; the low number of prosecutions and convictions; the insufficient funding and support for victim services; the weak regulation and oversight of labor recruitment agencies; and the limited data collection and analysis.

The report also provides a list of prioritized recommendations for Zimbabwe to improve its anti-trafficking efforts such as amending its anti-trafficking law; renewing and implementing its national action plan; expediting trafficking cases in courts; increasing collaboration and funding for NGOs; providing specialized training for officials; proactively identifying and referring victims; establishing shelters in each province; developing mutual legal assistance treaties; and collecting data on trafficking trends.

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