A Jamaican man has been linked to an international human trafficking syndicate after he was arrested at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) on November 28th where he had gone to fetch one of the victims who had just arrived from Ethiopia.
47-year old Samoki Imanu Cunningham, a Jamaican businessman and owner of Gaborone based Phatsima Jewellery and Cosmetics, is expected to appear in court again next week.
The international syndicate allegedly lures unsuspecting foreigners to other countries with false employment or business promises.
Although Cunningham has been charged with a lesser charge of ‘Promoting Human Trafficking’, State Prosecutor Priscilla Israel said the charges were likely to be changed to ‘Human Trafficking’ upon completion of investigations. “We intend to give Interpol in Jamaica and Ethiopia a chance to establish some of the perpetrators and the author of the victim’s invitation letter. We also want to establish what happened to other three victims who were invited earlier,” she said.
Cunningham was nabbed after Immigration officials at SSKIA established that the victim, Mulubirhan Tizazu Desta’s Visa documents were false.
The court heard that Desta was found in possession of an invitation letter that indicated that it was prepared by a certain Kaabo Segwati and although it indicated that he signed it, Cunningham vehemently denied any knowledge of the document.
He told the police that he was asked by a Johannesburg based Ethiopian friend known as Endale, to meet Desta at the airport and check him in at any hotel in Gaborone.
Upon checking Cunningham’s phone, investigators said they found three photographs of passport covers of female Ethiopian citizens but Cunningham said they were sent to him by Endale so that he could invite the ladies to Botswana for business.
The police further told the court that they have since established that Kaabo Segwati does not exist in the civil registration database and that only a teenage boy called Kabo Kenneth Segwati existed.
Investigators told the court that the victim, Desta, who only speaks Amharic was being kept in a safe place while investigations continue and that arrangements were being made to get an interpreter.
Cunningham was remanded in custody and is expected to appear for mention before Village Magistrate, Ike Raphael next week.