Botswana continues to be a corridor for human trafficking, a criminal enterprise whose victims are mostly women and children.
This criminal industry is one of the fastest growing within the country as traffickers try everyday to take their victims across the border to neighbouring countries and even internationally. Some of the naive victims are lured under the false promises of a better life in South Africa only to end up in prostitution rings and forced labour.
What is evident is that Botswana continues to serve as a transit route to the Promised Land as law enforcement officers continue to grapple with cases of this nature.
A similar case is currently being heard at the Francistown high court before Justice, Bashi Moesi. Three Malawian men stand accused of trying to smuggle three women, a 22-year old man and a baby to South Africa.
John Moyodi, Enock Nkatha and Gaston Kamanga are said to have acted jointly to defeat the ends of justice. Unfortunately luck was not on their side on the 11th July last year when they were busted at the Kazungula border in Botswana trying to smuggle the women, the 22 year old man and the baby.
Describing how he ended up in a conspiracy of the three accused persons, the 22 year old, Thomas Manda said that when he was at the village in Malawi he received a call from his uncle Ishmael Manda saying that he has talked to Moyodi to take him from Malawi to Cape Town.
He said when he asked how he will get past so many borders without a passport his uncle told him that he had given Moyodi money for his passport. “I left for Lilongwe and got to Moyodi’s place on Thursday and spent a night there.
“On Friday he gave me a passport and told me to study it. When he got back he told me that we will leave on Sunday he was still waiting for two guys who are coming,” Manda said. He said that he asked how they can travel when he has no passport but Moyodi told him not to worry.
To his surprise when the two men (co-accused) arrived, in the morning three women and a baby joined them when they left. He said that when they got to the Malawi-Zambia border Moyodi gave him 1500 Malawian Kwacha and said he should go and stamp the passport he had given him.
“He said when they ask questions I should give them the 1500 Malawian Kwacha. I managed to stamp without being questioned,” the 22 year old said.
Narrating his story further, Manda said they managed to escape at that border and went to the Zambia-Botswana border where Moyodi told him that if upon presentation of the passport he is caught he is on his own.
However he said that Moyodi promised that if he does not say he is with him he will come to rescue the situation. “I managed to stamp my passport without any difficulty,” the young man said adding that it was only at the foot and mouth stop at Kazungula that he was caught after crossing when officials asked for his passport and realised that it was not his.
“I was then taken to the immigration office for questioning,” Manda said.
The young man whose highest education qualification is Junior Certificate, said that when he left at the village he knew that he was going to get temporary jobs at Cape Town. “My uncle is the sole breadwinner so he asked me to come,” he said.
Giving his version of events, Detective Constable Morebodi Kagiso who was stationed at that area at the time told the court that on the date in question he arrested a woman who was carrying a baby that was crying uncontrollably on her back. He said that what made him to arrest the woman was that she was walking curiously and unsure of where she was going.
With these signs in play Kagiso said he called her to the immigration office for questioning, where he discovered that the woman had not presented herself to the immigration officials. Kagiso said due to language barrier the woman who had told him that she is Melisy kept pointing on the other side of the border but in the Botswana side.
“I asked her to produce her travelling document and those of the child but she failed to do so and kept pointing on the other side. We went there and when we were on the road we met the 1st accused and they started talking in a foreign language and I stopped them.
“When I asked him about the woman and the child he said he knew them. He then furnished me with his Malawian passport,” Kagiso told the court. He explained that when he asked Moyodi where the baby’s mother was he said she was at Sishele hiking spot in Kazungula.
Kagiso said that they then went to the hiking spot whereupon arrival Moyodi identified the mother of the baby as Sikina. “Immediately the baby ran to the mother.
When I asked her why she left the baby she said that the baby and Melisy had no travelling documents and that it was Moyodi’s instruction that they stay behind,” Kagiso explained.
Just when he thought he had seen it all it emerged that there was another woman, Mary who also revealed that their destination was South Africa. She said that Moyodi and his co-accused had promised to find them jobs there.
Kagiso said he then asked Moyodi to accompany him to find his co-accused.
“Along the way he (Moyodi) asked us to stop and called to two gentlemen who were walking along the road. I asked them who they were and they told me and gave me their Malawian passports,” the detective explained to court.