Rwanda National Police (RNP) has intercepted three Burundian women who were apparently being trafficked to Saudi Arabia through Rwanda.
The victims, all mothers, were intercepted at Kanyaru border post on July 16, as they crossed into Rwanda.
Police have since arrested a man of Kenyan nationality identified as Asman Macharia Wakira, who was apprehended the same day also at Kanyaru.
The victims and the suspect, yesterday, spoke to the media at the RNP headquarters in Kacyiru and narrated the ordeal to journalists.
The suspect attempted to deny any knowledge of the women but the victims pinned him and insisted that he was the person behind the whole operation.
One of the victims (names withheld), narrated that they were approached separately by another Burundian woman in Bujumbura, where they live as neighbours, with a plan to take them to Saudi Arabia, where they would earn 500,000 Burundian Franc monthly.
None of the victims knew that they were headed for the same destination.
“We were surprised to find ourselves in the same vehicle that was headed to Kigali from Bujumbura,” one of the victims said.
“The lady told us that on reaching the border, we would find someone on the Rwandan side who would facilitate our travel to Nairobi through Uganda, where our visas would be processed,” she added.
Little did the women know that the person in question – who would supposedly help them at the border – was actually Wakira, whom they travelled with from Bujumbura.
“We didn’t know Wakira neither did we know that he was on board as well. When we reached the border, we couldn’t explain where exactly we were going in Kigali, which was our first line of defence, but Wakira appeared from nowhere and started to whisper in our ears what to tell the Police, including places in Rwanda and contacts of people where we were going,” another victim narrated.
The women narrated that the suspect even bought lunch for them at the border, before he was identified and arrested after they decided to tell the investigators the truth.
RNP spokesperson Celestin Twahirwa said Wakira was arrested after investigations.
“Police officers followed closely Wakira’s actions and his involvement with the women; the victims actually, later after knowing that Wakira was the main person behind their recruitment and their contact in Rwanda as they were told, they passed the information over to Police,” Twahirwa said.
He warned that Rwanda’s stand on human trafficking is very clear and it can neither be a recruitment base for modern day slaves nor a transit.
“We have good working relations with both Burundi and Kenya police forces and we will work together even on this similar case to ensure that justice is served,” he said.
Human trafficking, under the Rwandan law, is punishable with an imprisonment of between seven and ten years and a fine of up to Rwf10 million as stipulated under articles 250 to 253 of the penal code.
However, when the crime of human trafficking is committed internationally, the jail term ranges between 10 and 15 years and a fine of between Rwf10 million and Rwf15 million.