Four Kenyan Police Arrested Over Human Trafficking Plot

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

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What’s Happening

Four Kenyan police officers were arrested during a raid by Kenya’s transnational Organized Crime Unit of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) against a house on the outskirts of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

The raid was successful, and managed to catch two officers involved in the plot off guard. After a brief chase, two of the officers were arrested and 35 Ethiopian nationals were rescued from the house. During the raid, the other two officers involved in the plot showed up with another two Ethiopian nationals, bringing the total to 37. The two other officers were subsequently arrested.

All four of the police officers arrested were armed at the time, however the arrests were able to be carried out without any violent incident.

A Few of Many

The 37 Ethiopian nationals, thought to be victims of a human trafficking plot to bring them to South Africa, are just a few of many Ethiopian nationals that make the journey to South Africa in the pursuit of better living conditions.

The journey is undertaken by many, a journey which is capitalized upon regularly by human traffickers with the promise of getting people to South Africa. It is estimated that tens of thousands of people each year attempt to make the journey from Ethiopia all the way to South Africa. A smaller number of Somalians also make the journey.

Kenya is a key first stop, before they head to Tanzania, Malawi, and then eventually to South Africa.

A map detailing common routes between Ethiopia and South Africa that are undertaken by migrants.

The trafficking is highly exploitative, and regularly has resulted in mass casualty incidents on a number of different occasions. However, when compared to the more popular routes taken by migrants out of the Horn of Africa, that being east to the Arabian Peninsula and north to Europe, the southern migration route oftentimes falls out of the spotlight and thus, does not achieve the necessary attention from government authorities attempting to combat trafficking of migrants.

In order to avoid detection, migrants are oftentimes packed into airless fuel containers or shipping containers, and forced to walk long distances through forests and national parks. There is very little food that the migrants receive along the way, and any who may fall sick or can no longer afford travel costs (of which can spontaneously be incurred by traffickers mid-journey) are left behind.

The journey is primarily undertaken by young men seeking to escape the lack of economic opportunity, in order to head to South Africa and hopefully capitalize upon a greater potential for economic opportunity in order to send money back home to change their families economic standing.

Comparatively, the southern migration route costs significantly more than the eastern and northern migration routes. The whole journey can take up to 6 months, and costs an average of 4,800$ per person. This is quite a lot compared to the approximately 700$ it would take an individual to go to a country like Saudi Arabia.

While the arrest of the four Kenyan police officers involved in trafficking is beneficial in the states’ fight against the smugglers, it is unlikely that it has dealt anything more than a small dent in what is a much larger trafficking ring. The southern smuggling groups are often decentralized, and highly adaptable to on the ground conditions, managing to avoid most areas where police are applying more pressure than usual.

In order to properly tackle the problem, a much more concentrated approach that uses significantly more resources than are currently being dedicated will be needed. However, this remains presently unseen as the Arabian and European migration routes continue in the spotlight.