Zim-Kuwait 'slaves' narrate horror tales

HARARE - Several young Zimbabwean women, who were recently rescued after being trafficked to Kuwait where they worked as slaves, yesterday recounted their harrowing tales.

The women, who could barely hold back their tears as they told of their trauma in the Persian Gulf country, narrated in horrifying detail how they had ended up as “household slaves”.

Still visibly shaken and speaking with palpable fear in their voices, the young ladies — whose names may still not be revealed — opened up somewhat to the media yesterday after much persuasion from Women and Gender minister Nyasha Chikwinya.

“We cried until we could cry no more. Up to now I can’t fully say what happened ... slaves do not sleep in Kuwait,” one of the women said.

A holder of a nursing and public relations certificate, she said she had ended up in Kuwait after falling victim to a bogus newspaper job vacancy advert.

After applying for the job and being replied to “speedily”, she was told “a bit” version of the Kafala system -- whereby a sponsor would pay for her travel and whom she would reimburse later.

“It seemed a fair offer,” she recalled, and rationalising at the time that this was her chance to escape Zimbabwe’s worsening poverty and unemployment, she readily accepted the job as a nurse aide — where she was to look after a young boy.

“I went to church afterwards thanking God for answering my prayers,” she said.

But her joy was short-lived and soon turned to horror. Upon arriving in Kuwait along with other women, she was detained in the airport basement for a long time.

“From the way we were treated by the police, we started wondering what kind of an airport this was,” she added, also recalling how they had later been “sold” to bidders like cheap furniture at a village auction.

She said up to this day, she remained indebted to a Malawian lady who had warned her to conceal her phone away from the glare of the Arabian agents, a gadget that was to later prove invaluable.

“I was taken by the people who bought me. The first week was perfect. The lady of the house bought me earrings, night gowns, dresses, pants, everything … I thought okay, maybe it is not that bad.”

But all hell broke loose a little over a week after that.

Fighting back tears, she said the lady of the house started waking her up in the wee hours and belting her, while shouting, “why are you sleeping … wake up”.

“Initially, I thought maybe it was just a bad day for her, which was why she was treating me like this. But it became a habit. Even if she woke up at 2am, 3am or 4am, she would wake me up with that belt.

“After that, I could not sleep anymore… and it went on for two weeks. I could only go on by praying. I was now also angry with myself because it was so severe.

“One morning, the husband came in naked to the laundry room where I was ironing. He tried to touch me and I screamed. Luckily, the wife came in and he said ‘this kadama (slave) of yours I told her to iron my clothes but instead she is seducing me.’ They both beat me up,” she said.

She later stole a SIM card that she had found while cleaning the house.

“I started googling for help. I found myself googling human trafficking in Kuwait, plenty of pages came out —  national human trafficking in America, IOM, project 189.

“I started sending emails to all those organisations asking for help.

“The one in America replied that they wanted my address, but I didn’t know where I was. They kept sending emails to me. They got in touch with one of their agents in Kuwait who asked me to send my location through WhatsApp.

“I was scared, worse still after I saw the Kuwait agent’s profile picture and noticing that he was Arabian. I said no, he is the same people. I said no, I won’t send.”

It eventually took the extremely serious abuse of the next-door Ghananian house maid to jerk her into action, and finally sending her location to the agent.

“I said if I am going to die, let me die, but not in this house. I sent my location to that guy and he came to my rescue,” she whispered choking with emotion.

However, she still feels very guilty that she had failed to find the courage to tell her rescuers of what happened to the Ghanaian woman.

“I am sure the people in Ghana are asking where is their daughter, when she is down the drain.”

Another woman who opened up yesterday had been orphaned at an early age and was raised by relatives. She later also faced the difficulty of raising her own children, until “the chance” to go to Kuwait seemed like her only way out of poverty.

She said she had also been told that “sponsors” in Kuwait were funding her travel expenses, and that she would reimburse them “little by little” with her $750 monthly salary.

“You know when you are travelling out of the country with the prospect of having a lot of money, the excitement is huge. I actually bid farewell to my kids (sic) and relatives at the (Harare International) airport.”

Although immigration officers approached her and questioned her about her trip, she brushed them off believing “if you get such an opportunity and someone is trying to stop you they are naysayers”.

But she was also soon to realise on arrival at the Kuwait airport that all that she had been told “were lies”.

“The police there treated us really badly. They took our passports on arrival and it was the last day I saw mine. Up to today I don’t know what happened to it. We were taken to the basement of the airport and spent hours there before some agents came to take us.

“My agent was called Leila. When I was going to Leila’s place I asked her whether what I was wearing was appropriate for the hotel job. She started laughing at me, saying ‘did they not tell you that you are going to work as a house maid?’”

She said although she had been shocked by this revelation, she had nowhere to run. The next day, she along with the other women, were lined up “like slaves to be sold to the highest bidder”.

“They called us kadamas and we did not know it means slaves. They told us to smile. We asked why, and they said you are supposed to smile, because you are being bought. On my side, I was bought for $3 000,” she said.

The Warren Park-raised lady went on to work in a 17-roomed three-storey house.

“I asked how much they would give me and the lady laughed, saying I bought you for $3 000. So, you will not be getting any salary. If I am to give you anything, maybe I will give you after two years.”

The woman recalled how she had cried until she could “cry no more”.

“When it comes to food they say their slaves only eat after their masters. I told them that in my country if you eat left overs you will have bad luck. So I survived on tea for the 40 days I was in Kuwait.

“Sometimes I would steal chocolates and oranges and hide them in my pants and go outside so that when I got a chance I could eat the chocolates and drink water, so that at least my stomach would be full.”

Her clothes were always kept outside and she was forced to bath an excessive number of times a day because they said “Zimbabweans smell”.

“I worked a lot. I am really sorry I have to skip some of the parts because it was really painful,” she said.

An advert that she had seen on the Internet prompted her to rush to the Zimbabwean embassy to get help to come back home.

“When we got home, we got different receptions. Some people welcomed us with open arms and some would actually laugh at us. Up to now, I still cannot say what really happened,” she said.

Comments (15)

Blame it on Matibili who destroyed our country and economy. Many moons ago...even going to South Africa or Zambia was for a few pple besides those of pre-independence Wenera or victims of Gukurahundi who were running away with their dear lives. We rtrusted that Demon with a whole country and he pissed on everyone with one leg up like a dog!

Dhonatoh - 14 June 2016

the poor woman actually 'went to church & pray' afta getting the placement! why have zimbabweans lost all faith in their homeland to an extent where they crave & accept to every offer or 'deal' without verification? why are we not a people ofour own means & ends? working in a foreign kantry require the blessings of one's gvt and the host gvt. how can a literate & sane person get to the runway aboard an air vessel destined for a no-men's-land without regularising their travelling rqrments? did these women consult or confide in their estemeed friends, relatives or elders or zvaingonzi tapinda, toenda diaspora? iwe ungabhadharirwe ndege by someone kuti uzomureimburser later/ iye osara akabateyi chako? rwake ruri rudo stereki rwekuti uwane basa rauri kunyimwa newenyika yechizvarwa? zim pple have been deprived of education to think that going outside the kantry is like cross a small village stream! ko anoyambuka goto akazotsvaka matombo ekutsika wani? the airzim staffer met her fate while on these 'foreign trips to clinch business deals' and what is now left is a widower & orpharns! desperation among zim pple have reached newest levels neva experienced in history. & the buffons continue partying unfazed with the hardships of these women!! fellow influential women are standing with arms akimbo while fellows are receiving it from unknown assailants from every orifice until they pass out!!! Eli Eli... lama sabachthani!!

SaManyika Chaiye - 14 June 2016

Slave trade is in the DNA of Arabs.Those who did know it perfectly well that they even established a slave trade centre in Zanzibar and Pemba Islands.Generally whenever Arabs look at Africans they see slaves who should work for them and flushed down the drain like human waste.

Gen. Spinola - 14 June 2016

Any seemingly too good to be true deals and offers should be approached with caution. There was no plan B, in Kuwait. If one is christian he or she should take a risk with a christian dominated destination. It was frightening for these women. The arabs are just rough towards workers. Here they are just mild because the christians dominate, but their colours are crystal clear.

X-MAN IV - 14 June 2016

we can only thank sir wicknell chivayo for facilitating the return of our sisters through his timely donation,may zimbabweans emulate that gesture

truth - 15 June 2016

These slave drivers purport to be very religious worshipping some god 5 times a day . And they want to dilute and destroy the Gospel in our schools and nation. Watch and pray!

Blessed - 15 June 2016

Remember that those very same Arabs living in Zimbabwe once tried taking to the Courts that Christian prayer's should be banned from all schools as they infringed upon the conscience of non Christians and in particular Moslems. They later dropped their case. Now tell me you think they have given up their idea of not only establishing their religion and way of life in Zimbabwe? They haven't. That's why it should frighten all and sundry when they come with offers to build schools in the country and Comrade Dokora swallows hook line and sinker. Me fears that one of the consequences of economic melt downs in Zimbabwe will be the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in this country. The seeds are being sown just watch the space.

Truth Free - 15 June 2016

Your home is your home however much things aren't working out but you can still find supports and protection from your fellow citizens. It's better to stay in your country and battle with absolute poverty than to go to another and be treated like a slave. It's so disheartening as to why Africans leave their countries because of poverty and seek to be enslaved in other continents. With Arabs it's not a surprise considering their homophobic believe and to them slavery on Christians especially black is not something condemnable.

Charlie - 15 June 2016

what is so special about slaves 90 % of zimbos are slaves to the owner of this country

jack - 15 June 2016

All the horrific incidents in Zimbaweans life must and does lay squarely on Robert Gabriel Mugabe the president of Zimbabwe, first secretary of Zanu PF, Commander in Chief of the Defense Forces, and the Chancellor of all State Universities. He destroyed a vibrant economy left by the Smith Regime, destroyed the health sector through looting resources and empowering military and arming them to harm his on citizen in cases when he no longer popular like now. Destroyed the unity of the people through limiting resources and growth on other parts of the country so as to make people servants to his system of dictatorship. He realized that by limiting growth in other regions and only focusing on capital Harare, all people will be looking to him as messiah. Now this has gone to far. He can not even control or provide solution to the. Bulawayo and Matebeleland fell victim despite all its strategic location as an industrial hub due to nearness to SA and Bostwana when it happen to be home to ZIPRA or ZAPU. Masvingo and Mutare happen to be home to Zvobgo and Edgar Tekere arch rivals of Mugabe politically. economic independence of these ment a threat to Mugabe and his hold on the country and leadership of ZANU PF. But now all is falling apart.

amina - 15 June 2016

just painful. no need to say more

sigodo phenduka - 15 June 2016

If only we had not misplaced $15bn we wouldn't be in this situation

Mzansi - 15 June 2016

When all tis is happening where is the Zimbabwean embassy in Kuwait?People detained at the airport.

Taedza - 15 June 2016

pasi ne maRabs ose im Zimba . why not demostrate on their premises or even kik some of them out

buja365 - 15 June 2016

join the world of money fame power email us today at besonwest106@gmail.com

peter - 25 June 2016

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