Interpol ‘smoke’ fugitive human trafficking kingpin out of SA hideout

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By Court Reporter

INTERPOL have tracked down a suspected human trafficking fugitive ringleader who allegedly traded over 30 women for sex slavery and abuse in Kuwait to South Africa where he had been hiding for two years.

James Tungamirai Maroodza, 33, an accomplice to Norest Maruma, a convict serving 50 years for the same offence, was dragged to court on Friday after he was arrested by international police.

He appeared before Harare magistrate, Josephine Sande who remanded him in custody to Monday for bail ruling.

Maroodza had a warrant of arrest following him for two years after he defaulted court and disappeared on April 21 2016 following his bailing by the High Court.

However, it emerged that under mysterious circumstances, his warrant of arrest was nullified by an unknown magistrate.

The warrant of arrest was never confirmed before any court but when Maroodza appeared in court on Friday magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa discovered that the warrant was recorded to have been cancelled long back.

When Maroodza disappeared, he was on remand answering to seven kidnapping counts and was charged together with Maruma on other counts.

While in hiding, Maroodza allegedly trafficked 20 more women and is now facing 27 kidnapping counts.

Officer Paul Kuratidza told court that investigations are still under way and more victims were coming to report him for trafficking.

Prosecuting, Sebastin Mutizirwa told court that Maroodza was not a suitable candidate for bail considering that he has been fugitive for two years.

He said there was a likelihood that Maroodza would default again since he is facing a serious offence and is aware that his accomplice has been caged.

Maroodza is the owner of Employment Engine Global Services which allegedly operates as an agency for human trafficking.

According to the state, Maroodza works in cahoots with Sntayehu Estifanos and Alkandari Manpower Agencies based in Kuwait which also operate as agencies for trafficking in human persons and they are still in touch.

It is state’s case that Maroodza recruited several Zimbabwean women to go and work in Kuwait as housemaids.

The state alleges he misrepresented through his agency that the victims will get lucrative salaries in Kuwait.

He also told the victims that the requirements were to be medically examined for HIV among other things.

Working in connivance with his accomplices, Maroodza facilitated travelling documents as well as air tickets for the victims.

However upon arrival in Kuwait the victims were subjected to labour exploitation, verbal insults and sex slavery.

Their passports and cellphones were confiscated but they however managed to escape and seek refuge at the Zimbabwean embassy in Kuwait before they were sent back home.