About 31 Namibian women aged between 27 and 40 were trafficked to Oman with assistance of agents in Namibia, since February this year.
The victims were recruited under the disguise of employment and search for greener pastures, but they are however being subjected to suffering, inhuman treatment and turned into slavery.
This was revealed by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah in the National Assembly today, where she said 21 of those have been successfully repatriated back to Namibia, while the remaining 10 have been identified, traced and kept at safe houses, through the collaboration of Windhoek Interpol and Muscat-Interpol.
“The remaining 10 victims have indicated their wish in returning to Namibia as soon as possible, pending their family members securing the required funds to assist them, with travel expenses as well as the cancellation of the debt bondage fee, linked to the visas and other expenses,” she explained, adding that, the first batch was also returned through families footing the bills.
It was reported that the victims are working under horrendous conditions and are expected to work 19 hours per day, 7 days a week with very few resting hours. Most of the victims hitch-hiked to South Africa where they boarded flights to Oman in the middle-east. This was done through agents who also charge facilitation fees for arranging employment.
Efforts are being made by the government in collaboration with INTERPOL to repatriate the victims. However, the minister revealed that some of the alleged employers are demanding bondage fees to be paid to them before they can release the victims. “The bondage related fees are between N$37 000 to N$50.000″.”
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the trafficked women are promised jobs as domestic workers. However, when they arrive in Oman their employer would confiscate their documents and cellphones, then force them to sign employment contracts written in Arabic.
She warned the would be economic migrants that, “the grass is not always greener on the other side, as the entire world is in an economic crisis following the COVID-19 pandemic and other global disasters.”
The minister said some of the identified victims, found ways and sent voice notes to their family members narrating their ordeal as they pleaded for swift assistance to be repatriated back home.
Furthermore, she said, once they arrive they would be under the care of the government which will then hand them over to the health ministry for counselling, before the police can take statements.
“The statements will be voluntary until such a time that they are in a good state. Their situation is traumatising hence no one will be forced to give a statement. In the meantime a case has been opened with the Windhoek police, CR 206/06/2022.
“But note that the repatriation costs are carried by the families,” clarified Ndaitwah.
A case of human trafficking has been registered with Interpol.
“The case is still under investigation and when the time is opportune, and if evidence dictates, then an arrest will be affected. This is an important case and the Police and other stakeholders are carefully gathering and considering evidence before the matter is placed on the court roll,” she said.