Tanzanian child traffickers lured into the hands of law enforcers

Emman, aged 14 years is a disabled minor from Tanzania who was lured and trafficked from Shinyanga to Nairobi. At his age, he has never been to school. According to his own account, Emman was lured by a lady through his uncle. The alleged lady trafficker was well known to his uncle and she had promised to educate Emman besides offering to give him a good life in Nairobi, Kenya. On arrival in Nairobi, the trafficker deserted Emman at a popular bus terminus called the Machakos bus station. Upon realizing that his would-be guardian was not returning after faking that she was going to the washrooms, Emman decided to crawl to a safe ground on a verandah along the nearest street to take some rest from the scorching sun.

It was during this time while Emman was resting at the verandah of a nearby market that a different lady approached him and tried to find out how she could help him. After listening to the boy’s plight, the lady offered to go with him to her place of abode and provide him with shelter and food. The new stranger also promised to take Emman to school, he little realized that she was part of a complex network of traffickers (both Kenyans and Tanzanians).  These cruel individuals traffick disabled persons (both children and adults) to Kenyan towns for begging purposes. This phenomenon has turned out to be a big industry in Kenya where the general Kenyan public ‘giving spirit’ is considered to be highest in the East African region. This originates from the “Harambee” philosophy (it’s about ‘pulling together’) which was adopted immediately after Independence as a catalyst for communal projects where the public were asked to give donations for the public good. Many schools and health centers were constructed through communal giving to take care of local projects. Therefore, this was a well calculated move to confuse the young Emman. He gladly accepted the new offer and she took him to her house at Shauri Moyo, a poor neighborhood in Nairobi.

Forced labor – a beggar in Nairobi

After two days of rest, the young Emman was summoned by the same would-be guardian (the woman) and given instructions to move to the city on a daily basis and beg with a target of five thousand shillings (USD $50) a day. This was a condition in order for him to continue being hosted by his new “master”.  Whenever he didn’t manage to hit the target as required by his host, he was assaulted, denied food and psychologically tormented by the alleged host. The exploitation went on until Emman could no longer bear with the demands, hence he contemplated escaping at the earliest possible opportunity.

Early one morning after he was released to head towards his usual beginning street, he decided to take a different direction and headed towards another expansive slum called Mukuru. While loitering there, he was noticed by a community volunteer who happened to have received training from CHTEA. After a screening exercise, the volunteer contacted a CHTEA officer who validated the assessment report and classified Emman as a case of cross border child trafficking.  Emman was immediately removed from the slum and placed at a protection center outside of Nairobi from where the process of court committal documentation was commenced to facilitate repatriation. The court committal process was handled by a Government Children’s Officer.

The child trafficking ring

In a surprise turn of events, on the day that the young Emman was to be taken to the court for committal orders, the CHTEA officer accompanying the Children Officer received a call from an unknown caller who identified himself as a Police Officer based at a police station in Eastern Nairobi. The caller further claimed that he was in the company of another three men who were supposedly relatives of the young Emman. The whole team of four would later turn out to be part of the trafficking ring based in Nairobi. The caller asked the CHTEA officer to hand over Emman to them as one of them claimed to be his uncle who had brought him to Nairobi. The caller further claimed that Emman had got lost while at his custody as he played with other children in Eastlands. The discussion ended up with a fake arrangement for Emman to be handed over at a designated local administrator’s office.

After brief internal consultations, the CHTEA head office swung into action and immediately alerted the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (Child Protection Unit) who dispatched two police officers to accompany the CHTEA Officer to meet the masquerading group. When they arrived at the designated meeting point, all the four men were already there waiting to be handed over the trafficked boy. The two police officers camouflaged themselves and asked that they be refunded for the expenses of the Emman’s upkeep before they could release him. The traffickers further alleged that the young Emman was a nephew to one of them. The alleged police officer turned out to be real and that he was offering protection to the real traffickers.

Setting a trap for traffickers

At the local administrator’s office, the masquerading group was patiently waiting for Emman’s hand over. The police officers claimed that they had spent a lot of money to keep the boy and that they needed a refund. The request was immediately accepted by asking how much the boy’s upkeep had cost. In a flash of a second, the three masqueraders found themselves under arrest alongside their police protector. On a quick search, they were found with loads of coins (signifying that they were the actual exploiters….as most of the beggars receive much of their donations in coins).

The arrest of this group was a major success in dealing with the child trafficking rings spread across the East African region. Two of the suspects have since been arraigned in court and their case is proceeding at the Kenyan high court under the watchful eye of the Kenyan public and the media. The head of the Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit (AHTCPU) of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Madam Mueni Mutisya has since commended the efforts of CHTEA in enabling the arrest of the traffickers.

From other reliable sources, it was said that the same clique of traffickers had already trafficked four other disabled children from Tanzania. The DCI Officers are keenly investigating to get on the bottom of the story.  Since the traffickers are from another country, this case will likely be handed over to the Transnational Organized Crime Unit (TOCU) to ensure that all those traffickers are handed down lengthy jail sentences of approximately 30 years.

The victim’s real name has been changed to protect his identity

Above left: 3 Tanzanians suspected of child trafficking during arrest.  


Above right: Two of the suspects in court

Tanzania: 3 Arrested for Child Trafficking

Tanzanian police arrested three suspected child traffickers transporting a group of children aged between 10 and 14 years. According to police, the children were headed for various domestic duties ranging from house help, farming and livestock tending.

On 7th September 2021, the Police Commandant of the Mbeya Province, Mr. Ulrich Matei reported that the suspects were arrested while organizing to transport the children to Mbarali district in Mbeya Province for very small wages. This is against the International Labour Organisation’s statutes which prohibits the use of children for labour under all circumstances.

According to the Police Commandant, the traffickers were expected to receive an equivalent of a month’s salary for each child successfully delivered to their exploiters. This was happening even as the Tanzanian law prohibits child labour as well as child trafficking.

The Executive Director of a non-governmental organisation called “Sauti ya Mama Africa (Women Voice in Africa), Ms. Thabitha Bughali asked the Tanzanian government to take stern action on the perpetrators as their actions were depriving vulnerable child the right to education and instead exposing them to social abuse and all manner of deprivation and suffering.  Reports of lost or stolen children are quite rampant in Tanzania, yet most of these cases are targeting local child market destinations for a myriad of petty jobs for profit.

For more see: CLICK HERE ( A Kiswahili version)

Kidnapped and rescued from the jaws of a Kidnapper/Child Trafficker

James is a minor boy aged 9 years hailing from a single parent family. He has two other siblings; an elder brother aged 14 years who is in F/2 and a younger sister aged 9 months. They reside with their mother at the Mukuru kwa Njenga slum. Coming from an unstable background makes him vulnerable to many realities of social, environmental and economic dynamics of life.

The young James was used to supporting his mother with house chores and other minor economic activities. He used to accompany his mother daily to her business venue selling cabbages and charcoal in the vast slum village. On the fateful day in April 202, at around 3.00pm in the afternoon, James requested his mother to allow him to go for football practice at a training ground called Galaxy, not far from their home.  Due to the fact that James had a great passion for playing football and a champion player for his team, his mother had no objection hence, she let him go for the practice.

When James’ mother time for business closure was due, she closed at around 8.00pm but without seeing her son return from the football practice. She consoled herself by assuming that he may have decided to go straight back home. At about 9.00pm, she arrived back home but James was nowhere to be found. She rushed to report the matter to the local security team where she was referred to report the matter at the nearest Police station.

James’ case was later referred to the CHTEA office by a Community Health Volunteer based at the Medical Missionaries of Mary – Counter Human Trafficking unit at the St. Mary’s Health Centre. The case was immediately profiled at CHTEA office after which the mother was facilitated to report the case to the Criminal Investigation Department (Child Protection Unit) where she was assisted to locate the telephone number an alleged kidnapper who had been calling from Western Kenya. The mother was further facilitated to travel to her separated husband’s home to confirm if he might have been involved in kidnapping the boy but to no avail.

Fast forward: On 22nd`August 2021, James’ mother claimed that she received a reverse call from her son and after a long chat with him, she alleged that a lady who claimed to be the kidnapper’s sister also spoke to her. During their discussion, the alleged sister offered to sneak the boy (James) back to his mother in Nairobi. The alleged sister further indicated that the kidnapper was allegedly her brother who she claimed was a psycho. The two ladies agreed to meet at Nakuru where the alleged sister would escort and hand over the boy while her alleged brother was away from home attending a burial function. It was not easy to trust the alleged sister to the kidnapper.

Armed with this information, James’ mother was accompanied by a CHTEA staff to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations with one mission: to ascertain the location of the caller. The initial plan was for the mother to travel to pick the boy from Western Kenya the following day. However, this was not to be, as a call was received early morning the same day from the alleged kidnapper’s sister who committed to take the boy up to Nakuru if facilitated with transport. James’ mother and a CHTEA staff took time to consult with the police on the new developments and also to examine security considerations. At the least they did not know that the alleged sister of the kidnapper had already left Western Kenya for Nakuru. As consultations concluded in Nairobi, the alleged sister to the kidnapper called to say that she was already at Nakuru (half way between the kidnapper’s village and Nairobi).

A series of negotiations kicked off with the alleged sister to the kidnapper to ascertain if indeed she had traveled with James. The first card on the table was to quickly express willingness to refund all expenses incurred during the journey. Then a handover discussion was done. As it was not possible to travel to Nakuru at that late hour, it was agreed that Peter be put in to a public transport vehicle headed to Nairobi as the mother and a CHTEA staff waited to receive him. They had allegedly arrived at Nakuru at around 12noon.

As fate would have it, the whole story turned out to be true.  At exactly 5.00pm, James’s mother shed tears of joy when she finally spotted her son alighting from the designated public vehicle. He was carrying a back pack and showed he was in good health. She hugged him incessantly for some 10 minutes without believing her eyes.

In the ensuing moments, James (the survivor) recalled how he was called by a stranger from the football field where he had gone to practice. The eventual kidnapper lured him to a corner where he grabbed him and held him tightly by his mouth and warned him not to make any noise lest he kills him. The 9 year old boy decided to cooperate with the kidnapper who in turn took him to his house in Mukuru Kwa Njenga and instructed James to say that he was his father in case he was asked by anyone. On the following day, the kidnapper traveled with James to Webuye, in Western Kenya. According to James, there were other children he found at the same home and who he later learnt had been abducted from other parts of the country.

The main pre-occupation during his stay at the kidnapper’s home in Webuye was to work at his family farm. His main duties included collecting firewood, cooking and washing utensils until late in the evening. Even though he was woken up very early in the mornings to start his duties (alongside other kidnapped boys), he never got to rest for the full day until past midnight. He was not allowed to walk alone and some times he was denied food depending on the moods of the kidnapper.

This case is still under investigation as the kidnapper/trafficker is still at large. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations is still working closely with CHTEA with a consideration to eventually arrest the perpetrator.

The victim’s real name has been changed to protect his identity