What you need to know:
The victims found in Masaka city were mobilized from different parts of the country after being promised “juicy jobs”
Nine people have been arrested on allegations of human trafficking, fraud and impersonation after 307 youth were found confined in a hotel Nyendo, a Masaka City suburb.
The victims had reportedly been promised jobs by Aim Global Uganda, a network marketing firm operating in different districts across Uganda.
The State Minister for Gender and Culture, Ms Peace Mutuuzo who rescued the victims said Friday that she received information from security agencies in Masaka about youths who are stranded following empty promises by agents of Aim Global Uganda that they would find them “juicy jobs”.
The victims were mobilized from districts of Kamuli, Mukono, Wakiso, Kayunga, Bugiri, Namayingi, Kabarole, among others and were confined in different lodges in Nyendo.
At leastt 74 were girls, 233 boys and 17 of them were under age-- below 18 years.
They allege that the company sells medicine which cures ulcers, but to their surprise, for the two weeks they have spent in Nyendo, they have been taught how to make money through network marketing.
“We survive on recruiting others to join the business and if one fails to recruit, you are asked to cater for your own meals,” Simon Wakyereza, 22 , a resident of Bugiri District said.
According to Wakyereza, his mother was forced to sell a goat, iron sheets and also secure a loan from the village Sacco so that she could raise all the money demanded by the company.
He told the minister that he was selling second-hand clothes in the market before his friend invited him to come to Masaka to get “a juicy job”.
“When I reached Masaka, the Aim Global Uganda agents told me that I was supposed to pay Shs900, 000 and another Shs150,000 for accommodation, I called my mother to send the money which she did within a few days ,” Wakyereza said.
Ms Nabillah Nabirye from Kamuli District told the Minister that she fears going back home empty-handed after persuading her mother to send her Shs900, 000 which she borrowed from friends.
Mr Reagan Mulindwa, one of the agents of the Aim Global Uganda, said that all the victims agreed to terms and conditions given to them by the company.
“We are not forcing anyone to stay here, everyone accepted what we told them but we are surprised to hear them speaking ill of our company,” Mr Mulindwa said.
He claimed that most of the youth joined their network after being diagnosed with ulcers and when they were given the medicine they got better.
Mulindwa said that in the five months he has worked with Aim Global Uganda, he has recruited 70 youth with each paying Shs900,000 to the company.
“This is the reason why my bosses removed me from the Fort Portal branch where I was working and appointed me their ambassador in Masaka Sub region to boost their business,” Mulindwa said.
Meanwhile, the minister ordered police to arrest Mulindwa and eight other agents of the company on charges of trafficking people, impersonation and fraud.
Ms Mutuuzo said the company is not registered with Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) and that it has been defrauding unsuspecting youth from different parts of the country using different names.
According to Ms Mutuzo, her Ministry will dispatch buses to transport the victims back to their respective districts.
The World Bank last month said Uganda’s economic growth has not kept pace with population growth, which creates between 600,000 and 700,000 new job seekers annually.