On Tuesday 3rd December 2019, Shaka Fornah was denied bail by Magistrate Hannah Bonnie of Court No.1 on Pademba Road in Freetown for allegedly trafficking Mbalu Kargbo out of Sierra Leone to the Arab republic of Oman, contrary to the Anti-Human Trafficking Act No. 7 of 2005. In her testimony against the accused, the elder sister of the alleged trafficked victim, Fatmata During, said the accused came to her where she sells vegetables at “Salad Gron” and told her that he had a travel program. She said she was skeptical and asked the accused if the destination of the trip is not an Arab country. She said the accused assured her that the girl will be going to Afghanistan and not an Arab country. The witness said the accused told her that the program would cost Le9 million including her flight ticket, medical certificate and other expenses. She said she complained that the amount was too much for her but the accuse said he will find a job for the victim so she should not worry. He said within three months she will be able to pay back the money. PW 2 said she gave the victim the Le9 million to give to the accused. The next day she said the accused came to her, as they sell in the same market, and said that everything is settled and that he and the victim will be going to Guinea, Conakry where the victim will board a flight to Afghanistan. After one week, she said the accused came and told her that the girl has gone. He showed me in his mobile phone the electronic air ticket the girl used, the witness said.
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She said when the girl arrived, he came and told me that she had arrived at her destination. She said she spoke to the girl and after some time, the girl said she had started working. The witness said the girl called one time and said she does not know that country but the people are Arabs. She said she asked her to find out the name of the country and the girl called and said it was Oman. She said the girl started calling frequently complaining of the maltreatment she was receiving at the hands of her employers. She said the food was not good, the work was too much and she was crying. She said she told the accused but he told her that the girl should be patient. She said after sometime, the girl stopped calling. She said she went to the accused and told her and the accused called the girl and they spoke. She said her mobile phone was taken from her and SIM card destroyed. She said that is why she was not communicating. The people said she was talking too much to her family back home. The witness said she went to Transnational Organized Crime Unit (TOCU) and the CID Headquarters who told the accused that he should allow the girl to return home. She was cross-examined by counsel M.M. Tijan and he also applied for bail for the accused but Magistrate Bonnie denied him and subsequently remanded him to the Male Correctional Facility on Pademba Road. The case was prosecuted by State counsel Adrian Fisher. It was adjourned to Friday 6 December 2019.
By David Thoronka
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