Court told, Tanzanian leads a syndicate of human traffickers

A Nairobi court has been told that a syndicate of human traffickers is operating between Kenya and Tanzania, targeting people living with disabilities from poor backgrounds.

The Makadara court was told that Tanzanian James Zengo, who lives with a disability, leads the syndicate that traffics people into Kenya through the Busia border to use them to beg in the streets of Nairobi.

Zengo has been charged before Makadara Principal Magistrate Agnes Wahito with trafficking in humans, illegal harbouring and resisting arrest by police.

According to court papers, Zengo with others not before court transported AF for the purpose of exploitation on diverse dates in January 2016 at Ikongwa village in Tanzania.

Zengo is accused of renting a house where he harboured children and adults who were trafficked from Tanzania with a promise to their parents that there were jobs for people living with disabilities in Nairobi.

On April 3 in the company of others not before the court, the court heard that he was allegedly found harbouring AF in a house at Kariobangi North estate in Starehe Sub-county. Consequently, he was accused of resisting arrest by four police officers.

The court heard that Zengo and his team would go to Tanzania to entice the vulnerable families with a promise that they will receive monthly income from the proceeds of their children’s hard work.

However, upon arrival in Nairobi they would be put in a small room where they only spent the night before embarking on daily begging along the streets where they would be watched over the whole day.

According to the court papers, each individual is given a daily target of Sh2,000 and anyone who fails to meet it is beaten up by Zengo using crutches.

In a video clip played in court, AF, a helpless man who would not move without crutches or a wheelchair, was brought in by Zengo 10 years ago.

A police officer however rescued AF, following a tip-off from the public.

During cross-examination, Zengo wondered why he was the only one facing the charges yet there were many arrested and detained with him.

He maintained that he was trying to uplift AF’s living standards. The hearing continues in September. - Lilian Chepkoech