BLANTYRE--A magistrate court in Malawi has slapped a K20, 000 fine to Gabriel Galazio, 36, from Mchinji after it found him guilty of kidnapping and trafficking five teenage Mozambicans to neighbouring Zambia.
Mchinji first grade magistrate Steve Chifomboti ordered Galazio, from Chazuka Village, TA Mavwere to pay MK20, 000 or spend 18 months in prison for the offence.
The magistrate also ordered Galazio to pay K7,000 each to the victims-- Watson Alifeletu, 20, Chifundo Kaunda, 19, Paulino Junualiyo, 18, Elias Damson, 18, and a 19 year old Emiliyano Joliyo who are all from Mozambique, to use as transport back home.
It wasn’t clear how Galazio found his victims, but the magistrate was not amused with his action, saying it was a grave offence and "against human rights."
The Malawi News Agency quoted Chifomboti as saying: “The behavior of taking people without their (the people) and governments consent is bad for many reasons. What if the person gets sick and dies in the foreign land, how you would trace their whereabouts? People need to have right certificates to work in other countries.”
Mchinji police prosecutor Julio Ntopela told the court Galazio was arrested on 31st August, 2012 at Kachebere in Mchinji and was answering a charge on kidnapping which is contrary to section 257 as read with section 260 of the penal code.
Ntopela said the trafficker was in a taxi with the children who were looking miserable and this made the police who stationed themselves at Kachebere suspicious of how the boys were looking.
“Imagine the boys were all barefooted and they looked like they didn’t know where they were going. The police stopped the taxi and upon interrogations the boys had to open up to police on where they were going,” he said.
He added, “They told the police that they were going to work in a farm in Zambia, but their trafficker lied to police saying they were going to his sister who stays at Tikoliwe Village which is in the boarders of Zambia and Malawi.”
After being interrogated by the police the children said they used to work at a certain farm in Dedza when Galazio came to them.
They said he coaxed them to go with him to Zambia because there were greener pastures there than in Dedza.
Poverty, which afflicts half of 14 million Malawians, is one factor fuelling human trafficking in Malawi.
The punishment for human trafficking is minimal, with a maximum fine of K20,000 or 18 months in jail, which rights activists is paltry to deter this vice.—maravipost/mana