Tanzania: The Mwanza Regional Police holding Dianna Edward Bundala (Emerald King) on ​​a charge of human trafficking and exploitation.

While addressing the media on 26th February 2022 in Buguku Street, Buhongwa Ward, Nyamagana District, the Mwanza Regional Police reported the arrest of Dianna Edward Bundala, 39 years, a resident of Buguku – Buhongwa for the offence of trafficking about 149 human beings.

The victims were reported to have been transported from various places before she locked them up at her home where they lived. Among them were 57 men, 92 women and 24 children (estimated to be aged between 4-17 years). The children were reported to have been removed from various schools. The suspected trafficker is said to have been convincing her subject that she was indeed a god who heals, resurrects people and solves their problems.

Earlier on 23rd February 2022, the police received an order from the Mwanza Mkuyuni Magistrate’s Court seeking for the arrest of one the children’s biological mother, Samir Ally Abbas. In fulfillment of the order, the police visited the home of the suspected trafficker where it was alleged that the mother of the said child was also present.

When the police arrived at the scene, the suspected trafficker led her followers to attack the police and prevent them from carrying out their duty. The police left but returned later and successfully arrested the trafficker as per the magistrate’s order.

The police commenced deeper investigation of the accused and the accomplices in order to prefer appropriate charges, if found culpable. The Police called on citizens to stop using the shadow of religion to deceive and traffic their followers (especially when they have social problems such as diseases and difficult living conditions).

This is a caption of the Mwanza Police boss giving a public statement regarding the arrest of Dianna Bundala ‘Aka’ Mfalme Zumaridi who had camouflaged as a preacher and leader of the Zumaridi church in Mwanza. The wording is in Kiswahili language.



It was very clear to me that the young woman who came into our office was in great distress.  As we introduced ourselves to each other and Lily began to talk – slowly at first – then most of it flowed out in copious tears.  I realized that the “Beirut Blast” in August, 2020 had taken a terrible toll on her life.  After a painful separation from her husband because of infidelity in July, 2018, she left for ‘greener pastures’ in the Lebanon.  She trusted that her 10 year old daughter would be safe with her mother.

Life was hard in Lebanon and Lily was forced in her own words “to do the work of three people” But she decided not to complain and it was extremely painful when she learned that the first 3 months of her salary was ‘directed’ to her airfare, then from the fourth month she received less than half of what was promised.  At times she felt angry as most days she was on her feet for 18 – 20 hours or more in  back-breaking drudgery.  As the family she worked for gave her no day off she said “I was driven like a slave” (I nodded in agreement).  Some days prior to the blast, Lily felt she could take no more and decided to escape, but life on the streets of Beirut, the capital city was a different kind of nightmare.   She joined some Kenyan women who had an equally checkered history of life in Beirut as homeless African women.  They all slept in one room and took turns that one waited behind to care for the children, while others worked in various casual jobs during the day.

One night when all the women went out as ‘ladies of the night’ while all the children were sleeping, Lily was dragged out by a group of young men who kicked in the door and she was savagely raped by the gang.  She said “I went in and out of consciousness” At that point I was not surprised that she had terrible dreams and nightmares.  With the help of a skilled Psychiatrist, cum PhD in Clinical Psychology, she healed eventually.  But these terrible memories of her experience remain part of her life story.   After the blast, people of various nations received some form of assistance from their embassies but Kenyans did not.  So they got together and decided to storm their embassy – at least 129 of them received tickets to return home.

A New Chapter in her Life

Thankfully, Lily was among those repatriated and came to our office three weeks later.  To add to all the woes in her life at that moment, she suspected that she might be pregnant.  If I could come with her to the hospital she agreed to go and find out the truth.  She shed many tears when the result read Positive, but she bravely told herself and me “it’s not the fault of this baby”.  Now more than ever Lily needed all our support.  As with most victims/survivors of trafficking, she had multiple needs to help to heal and restore her back to life.

Together with her medical care, counseling, housing and livelihood, we felt happy that since she had experience in selling fried fish at the market, we felt confident with her that it would be a good choice to sustain her both in the long and short term no matter where she set up house in Kenya.  But in the current sharp downturn in the economic situation, her sales were slow and the fish proved a disaster!!  Reason? She became inconsolable being forced one evening to throw her precious commodity to stray dogs.  Next day she requested to come to our office, she had spotted a small secondhand freezer for Euro 100.00 (twelve and a half thousand KHS) in the market – however she was halting in her enthusiasm and said “but, Sr Mary, you have done so much for me” I did not hesitate for a moment and suggested we purchase it and have a man pulling a cart (mkokoteni) to take it to her home.  From that time her project has gone from strength to strength.  On a good day her income can be Euro 25.00 or just Euro 6.00, if customers are few. She has been able to take her first born girl to high school using the same business income.

“My Beautiful Lebanese Daughter”

In June, 2021, Lily gave birth to a Baby girl, she called me to say “I have a beautiful Lebanese daughter” Only a woman of extraordinary courage and a heart full of forgiveness could make such a statement.  Of the months of counseling she said:  “only for this gift of counseling and the means of livelihood, I could never have coped so well and be where I am today” Her 12 year old firstborn (girl) is now ready to join First Year in secondary school shortly, it will be a good test of her ability to cope with these extra expenses. We wish her well and are here to support her.

The “fairy tale” of Marion, a Ugandan survivor rescued from Garissa

“A call one early morning from my elder sister who worked for a Somali family in Nairobi change my moods for the day as I anticipated to turn around the financial fortunes of my life”, ‘Marion’ a rescued Ugandan survivor recalls to this interviewer. Marion’s sister has worked for the same family since 2019. The family had asked Marion’s sister if she could bring another Ugandan lady to work as a house help for a related family at a far-flung location called Garissa.

Garissa is 367 kilometers north east of Nairobi. “I was quite hopeful that this new opportunity would greatly change the fortunes of my 5 children after I separated from my husband a few years earlier,” Marion continued to recall. She is the last born in a family of 9. Due to cultural and poverty related factors, Marion was married off at a tender age of 16 years and later, the husband married another wife and divorced her. She was forced to become the bread winner of her 5 children.

Due to the aforementioned challenges, Marion was convinced by her sister who was working in Nairobi to look for greener pastures in Kenya. The sister connected her to an employer at Garissa. “My movement costs were to be fully covered by the would-be employer,” Marion narrates. “I crossed the border on foot to avoid detection by border migration or security agents before I boarded a bus to Nairobi,” she concludes.

Upon arrival in Nairobi, Marion was received by her elder sister who briefed her about her would be employer’s location. She had to spend a night with her sister before leaving for Garissa the following day. The journey to Garissa was not without incidents but what stuck on her mind was how after being stopped by police for questioning, her would be employer sorted the matter out within a short time and she proceeded with her journey. This was despite of lack of proper travel documentation.

To conceal the hidden intentions, her would be employer gave Marion a warm reception and she was introduced to the family members. The family to work for consisted of 12 people. On commencement, she was neither allowed to take a rest nor was she given off days. This was besides being denied food and freedom of movement. Marion was not allowed leave the compound of her employer and was threatened with dire consequences if she dared do so.  The employer did not even provide for her basic needs such as sanitary towels. Eventually, Marion fell sick due to fatigue and the mistreatment encountered. Her pleas to be taken to hospital fell on deaf ears. The employer also forced Marion to refund the money that was used to facilitate her travel from Uganda hence, it meant going without salary until the full amount was recovered. The employer also employed the threats of reporting her to the police station since she did not possess legal migration documents. They even went further to threaten her that she would be accused of stealing.

One week into the job, Marion decided to escape from the family to save her life. “I had no idea where I was in Garissa but I woke up one day and schemed how to leave the family” She dashed out of the gated compound in a blink of an eye and vanished into thin air. Marion decided to use the main road as she kept running as fast as her feet could take her while her heart pounded with great fear. After about 5 kilometers of intense running, her body slowed down and she begun walking briskly to fake confidence…..but it was quite easy to notice that she was a stranger from the majority of the population.

The epitome of human indignity

At one point, Marion decided to stop a boda boda (motor bike riders) to ask for direction to the nearest police station. She had decided to take herself to a police station and risk being arrested instead of risking her life at a brutal work environment.  While she was asking for directions, a relative of the employer spotted her and in turn called her employer.

Within a few minutes, the employer arrived with her car. Marion was forced to enter the private car but she refused upon which, all hell broke loose. She was undressed in public after the employer claimed that she was a thief. They searched all her belongings but nothing was found. One of the non-indigenous residents from the area and who happened to be a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) with some previous training on counter human trafficking happened to have been passing by and noticed the commotion. She confronted the employer and insisted that Marion should have been taken to a police station if they were accusing her of theft. After a long confrontation, the employer agreed and Marion was taken to the police station accompanied by the CHV.

Upon arrival at the police station, the police officers first arrested the employer but released her on cash bail and asked to report back the following morning. The CHV was asked to host Marion until the following morning when her case would be determined after recording statements. Before leaving the police station, Marion insisted that she needed to pursue justice due to her employer’s abuse, exploitation, shame and indignity meted out on her.

Elusive Justice

A phone call was immediately made to the Secretariat of the “Religious Against Human Trafficking” (RAHT) in Nairobi to report the matter who in turn informed CHTEA (a member of RAHT). The latter moved swiftly and engaged further with other key stakeholders who facilitated the movement of Marion from Garissa to a shelter in Nairobi.

The employer offered to give Marion 150 USD so as to drop any charges that she was filing against the employer. For confidential reasons (known to CHTEA), Marion accepted the money and dropped the charges against her employer.

Marion has since arrival in Nairobi from Garissa exhibited signs of severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) and has since been placed under the care of one of the best psycho-social therapy experts in Kenya. The journey towards full rehabilitation and reintegration has just begun.