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THE arrest of a suspected Congolese human trafficker in Sesheke, Western Province, at the weekend is a grim reminder that the scourge is still rife despite national, regional and global efforts to eradicate it.
Human trafficking is one of the worst forms of human rights abuse.
It violates the very humanity of the victims.

Police should question 46-year-old Joseph Kazadi, who was allegedly transporting five females, including a two-year-old girl, and four males all from Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to an unknown destination.

Kazadi could be a mere pawn of some powerful organised crime godfathers, some of who could be operating in Zambia.
Although few cases have been reported of Zambians as victims, the country has become a favourite transit nation for the illicit trade.
The traffickers should not be allowed to use Zambia.
This is a form of modern slavery.

We commend the alert Sesheke residents who alerted police about the presence of the human cargo in their midst.
The impact of human trafficking on both the victims and the source countries are ghastly and far-reaching.
In many cases these are desperate people fleeing from conflict and repression.

They are searching for new homes abroad where they hope to begin new lives and raise families in peace.
Others are mere economic refugees running away from cyclical and generational poverty at home.
Dramatised and deliberately sensationalised stories of others who have successfully migrated after them and are now living like kings and queens abroad are too tempting for them to resist.
In most cases the victims have never been to the countries where they are being illegally transported.

They do not even know the names of their destinations sometimes.
All they are told is that they are headed for a better life abroad.
Reality only dawns on them after their perilous journey has begun.
Armed guards subject the migrants to verbal and physical abuse, often transporting them by the night and hiding them in safe places during the day in de-humanising conditions.

Their travel documents are confiscated and they are only given enough food to keep them alive.
Some of them sell their possessions, others save for months, even years, to raise money for the exorbitant fees the smugglers demand.
Many have died while being transported in goods trucks and other types of unsuitable motor vehicles without food, often crammed like sacks of grain.

Besides the trauma they are subjected to as they are being transported the unsuspecting migrants also end up being arrested and imprisoned under our country’s immigration law.
The traffickers flee or manage to bribe their way out of trouble.
Besides its impact on the victims, trafficking also negatively affects the economy and social cohesion of the source countries, which are deprived of human capital.

We, therefore, appeal to the police in Sesheke to work closely with the Department of Immigration to ensure whoever could be behind the latest case are found and brought to book.


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