Human trafficking: Middle East Consultant managers released on bail

Monday September 16 2019

Middle East Consultants Labour Export Company

Middle East Consultants Labour Export Company general manager, Benon Kunywana (left) and the company's recruiting and vetting officer Godfrey Kyalimpa (centre) in the dock at Entebbe Chief Magistrate's Court on September 16, 2019. PHOTO BY EVEN MUGANGA  

By Eve Muganga

Two mangers of a Ugandan labour export firm who have been in jail for 10 days over human trafficking and forgery charges have been released on bail after depositing Shs 2 million cash in Entebbe Chief Magistrate’s Court.
Godfrey Kyalimpa, a recruiting and vetting officer for Middle East Consultants Labour Export Company, together with Benon Kunywana, a general manager are accused of printing, issuing and distributing a clearance list for migrant workers from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, with the intention of illegally exporting workers out of Uganda.

In her observation, the Chief Magistrate, Ms Mary Babirye said the accused persons had presented substantial sureties and assured court that they would attend all proceedings and therefore had no reason to continue holding them in jail.

Before leaving custody, the magistrate also ordered Kyalimpa and Kunywana to deposit their passports in court and warned them not to interfere with investigations lest their bail is cancelled. Additionally, each of their sureties had to sign a noncash bond of Shs 5 million.

Prosecution alleges that on February 12, 2019 between Kampala and Entebbe International Airport in Wakiso District, Kunywana and Kyalimpa printed, issued and distributed a document relating to immigration, to wit a clearance list for migrant workers Ref. LEA 74/286/11 allegedly from the ministry of gender, labour and social development, intending to illegally export workers out of Uganda.

The accused are to return to court on October 7, 2019 for hearing.
Their release comes amid reports that the number of Ugandan migrant workers who have died under mysterious circumstances in the Middle East has increased to seven as State House and Police intensify investigations into the matter.

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Three of the migrant workers died in Kuwait in June and their bodies were flown back last week.

The bodies of John Torres Mujuzi and Charles Bekalaze, who allegedly drowned, were returned on Thursday while that of their unidentified colleague was returned on Friday.

It is alleged that the deceased workers were recruited by Spotlight International Recruitment Agency Limited whose directors have also since been arrested to help security agencies in the ongoing investigations.
Officials from the State House Anti-Corruption Unit revealed that the fourth person, Sarah Achieng from Bugiri District, who was taken by an individual, died from Oman in the same month but her body is yet to be returned. Detectives close to the investigation say while receiving the body of Kiwanuka, they also received information of two bodies of female migrant workers who died in Saudi Arabia.

The deceased were identified as Silvia Mutoni, who died in May, and Sarah Nagawa, 42, who died on June 18 in Dubai.
The officials said they are also investigating the death of Christine Nambereke who was allegedly taken to Saudi Arabia by local authorities in Manafwa District. She was reportedly subjected to sexual harassment, leading to her death.
The spokesperson of the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), Mr Charles Twine, said the bodies have been subjected to postmortem to establish the cause of death. “We are also investigating the circumstances and purpose for which they were taken and if we find any leads of trafficking, all those involved will be charged,” he said.