Former Zimbabwean Police Officer Arrested After Trafficking Women to Oman

What You Need to Know:

Forward Mashonganyika, a former Zimbabwean Police Officer, was sentenced in a Harare Court alongside Tendai Muswe for human trafficking on March 8th. 

The charges carry a 20-year sentence on top of a sentence Muswe was already serving for a similar crime. 

Court documents allege that in February of 2022, Mashonganyika, Muswe and their Omani accomplice Hassan Mohammed Ali Al Shihhi, lured three Zimbabwean women under the pretext of securing a work contract in Dubai, to Oman where they were forced to work as domestic servants, fed leftovers, and were physically and sexually abused. 

“Mashonganyika processed visas, air tickets as well as medical examination reports and facilitated transportation of the victims from Zimbabwe to Oman, instead of Dubai as had earlier been promised,” the court said. 

Al Shihhi, the facilitator of the trafficking scheme in Oman, reportedly took the women’s passports before taking them to residences where they were sold into domestic servitude. 

According to local media, the women contacted INTERPOL, who then in conjunction with the Zimbabwean government, repatriated them. 

The Details:

Human trafficking and exploitation, particularly of foreign workers, is a large problem in Oman. The US Department of States’ Trafficking of Persons Report on Oman for 2023 claimed, “during the year, media, NGOs, international organizations, and labor-source governments continued to report workers – mostly from Africa and Asia – were deceived by labor recruiters – either by paying illegal recruitment and visa fees and working in a job different than agreed upon or working as a domestic worker and experiencing conditions different from those agreed upon.  

Once in Oman, workers experienced non-payment of wages; restriction of movement; physical, verbal, and sexual abuse; contract switching; excessive work hours; denial of medical care, food, and rest days; passport confiscation; and threats of use of force, arrest and detention by police – all trafficking indicators – at the hands of their employers.  Despite these trafficking indicators, the government did not report criminally investigating the majority of these cases.” 

Despite the fact that Oman maintains various laws aimed at stemming the flow of trafficking victims into the country, their approach to handling cases of victims who have been in the country for a long period of time is seemingly lax. Traffickers and/or families taking advantage of foreign workers are oftentimes not prosecuted, and their victims referred to shelters or the embassies of their home countries for care. 

“Although the government had formal victim identification and screening procedures, some officials did not systemically or universally employ such procedures among vulnerable groups, specifically domestic workers reporting abuse or those that had left their employer’s home after experiencing poor work conditions, including indicators of labor trafficking.  One NGO reported in cases where domestic workers had experienced abuse or conditions indicative of forced labor and approached police, the workers’ claims were generally not investigated and they were instead returned to their abusive employer or arrested because their employer had filed “absconding charges.”  This likely rendered some potential victims of labor trafficking without care and at risk of re-trafficking in their employer’s home,” the report said.

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Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.