Air Zimbabwe employees in migrant smuggling syndicate


While there was no information that organised groups coerced victims into forced labour or prostitution in Zimbabwe, police had discovered a migrant smuggling syndicate involving Air Zimbabwe employees.

The employees were arrested and prosecuted. There were no reports that government officials were involved.

There were anecdotal reports that Zimbabwe was a country of origin and transit for trafficked persons, but there was no conclusive evidence to suggest that there was a sustained, organised effort to traffic persons.


Full cable:



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Reference ID





2005-03-01 16:05


Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.











E.O. 12958: N/A





REF: 04 STATE 273089


¶1. Overview of a Country’s Activities to Eliminate

Trafficking in Persons:



— A. There continued to be anecdotal reports that Zimbabwe

was a country of origin and transit for trafficked persons,

but there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that there is

a sustained, organized effort to traffic persons. Reports

included anecdotes of Zimbabwean girls exchanging sex for

passage across the South African border, Zimbabwean women

being lured out of the country with false job promises,

children being sexually abused by immigration officials of

neighboring countries during deportation from Botswana and

South Africa, children working as domestic or agricultural

workers in Zimbabwe and neighboring countries, and employers

demanding sex from undocumented Zimbabwean workers in South

Africa, both adults and children, under the threat of



The Child and Law Foundation conducted a study in Plumtree,

near the border with Botswana, in 2004 that reinforced

findings of a CLF report done in Beitbridge, the main South

African border crossing, in 2003: children were spontaneously

crossing the border of their own volition out of economic

necessity and were occasionally being abused during

deportation back to Zimbabwe. A Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT)

study conducted near the border in Musina, South Africa,

found a few Zimbabwean women working as sex workers; none

were minors. Save the Children Norway, Save the Children UK,

Child Protection Society, and UNICEF found evidence of

children working within Zimbabwe or in bordering countries as

domestic or agricultural workers, often unpaid, working

extensive hours, and without access to schooling.


All of the officials from Zimbabwean government, local

non-governmental organizations, and international

organizations interviewed said there are currently no

reliable statistics on the extent of the problem but also

said the problem was not widespread, sustained, or organized.


— B. There were anecdotal reports that victims were

trafficked from throughout Zimbabwe to the border areas and

across the borders into Botswana and South Africa. There

were also anecdotal reports that victims were transited

through Zimbabwe, from Botswana, Ghana, and East Africa, to

South Africa, but there is no systematic or credible

reporting to sustain these allegations. The Government has

launched a crackdown on illegal migrants that includes a

crackdown on trafficking in persons and human smuggling. The

Government arrests all persons identified without legal

documentation and those individuals facilitating their

transit. News reports indicate that illegal migrants are

transferred Tongogara Refugee Camp pending investigation of

their situation and return to their home country. Police say

that, if there is no evidence that the illegal migrants are

victims of a crime or have violated Zimbabwean laws other

than immigration laws, they are deported.


— C. No known changes.


— D. The Child and Law Foundation (CLF), with support from

Save the Children Norway, conducted a study at the border

town of Plumtree, with the cooperation of the Zimbabwe

Department of Immigration, who facilitated access to

officials. The study was completed in November 2004, and

reinforced the findings of CLF,s 2003 Beitbridge study.

Both CLF,s studies were both based on interviews with

children and provided anecdotal evidence of limited, sporadic



The International Organization of Migration (IOM) conducted

an extensive study on trafficking in southern Africa in 2003

that did not include Zimbabwe. IOM has plans to conduct an

additional regional study within the next two years that will

include Zimbabwe. The study will better define the extent

and nature of trafficking patterns in the region, including

in Zimbabwe. IOM is currently seeking funding to conduct

this study.


— E. There were no reports that Zimbabwe was a destination

point for internationally trafficked victims.


— F. Anecdotal information suggests that Zimbabweans, who

spontaneously emigrate seeking a better life across the

border, are exploited while in a neighboring country or when

being deported. There is also a problem of child labor within

Zimbabwe, due to the country,s economic difficulties and its

high number of HIV/AIDS orphans.


Save the Children UK says the organization has no evidence

that organized trafficking rings are transporting children

across the border. CLF,s study, based on interviews with

children who had crossed into Botswana, found that several

types of children cross the border looking for employment,

some of whom seek out and receive the assistance of

cross-border traffickers: HIV/AIDS orphans living alone or

who can not access social services due to the lack of a birth

certificate, children with family or friends across the

border, and children who cross with a group. The children

were occasionally victims of sexual exploitation from

neighboring countries, officials during deportation. CLF,s

2003 Beitbridge study found that girls, hoping for better

economic opportunities in South Africa, would hitch rides

into South Africa or the border town of Beitbridge in

exchange for sex with truck drivers. Some girls and women

would remain in the area of Beitbridge after returning from

South Africa and work as prostitutes due to lack of funds to

return to their homes in Zimbabwe.


A November 2004 Solidarity Peace Trust study reports that

Zimbabweans, including minors living illegally in South

Africa are sometimes victimized by employers, police, or

immigration officials who demand sexual favors in order not

to be deported. The study also reports that Zimbabweans are

vulnerable to wage exploitation under the threat of



Officials from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) ) Criminal

Investigative Division (CID) report that Zimbabweans are also

lured to other countries (primarily the UK, but also the

United States, South Africa, and other African countries)

with false promises of jobs. Upon arrival in the destination

country, they are then debt-bonded, have their passports

taken away and their movements restricted, and they are

exploited in sweatshop labor or brothels. Even when these

victims are in a position to seek help, they often hesitate

going to police in those countries, for fear of being

deported. CID officials usually learned of these cases when

the victims were assisted by citizens in the destination

countries and eventually returned home.


— G. The GOZ appears to have the political will to combat

trafficking. Officials in the ZRP, Attorney General,s

Office, Department of Immigration, Ministry of Foreign

Affairs, and Ministry of Social Welfare all expressed in

public the government,s determination to combat trafficking.

NGOs and international organizations that deal with

trafficking in persons and who have studies or projects

planned for 2005 have said the government supports their

efforts and cooperates with them. Immigration officials

facilitated the research conducted by CLF.


Government actions this year increased over last year. The

government initiated a highly-publicized crackdown on

prostitution in 2004 that included publishing the names of

pimps and clients. In the area of prevention, the government

is working with an orphanage that has received funding from

the Government of Canada to provide schooling and vocational

training to orphans at risk of child labor and trafficking in

persons. The government increased the budget for a program to

pay for school fees for other at-risk children. The state-run

media have run articles on trafficking in persons to alert

Zimbabweans to the dangers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

plans to distribute information to Zimbabweans abroad on

employment scams and how to seek help if they are victims. In

the area of prosecution and law enforcement, the attorney

general,s office is developing a training program for

prosecutors and judges. Police and immigration officials

participated in regional meetings, both for training purposes

and to facilitate regional cooperation. In the area of

protection of victims, the Ministry of Public Service, Social

Welfare, and Labor is constructing a center at the border

town of Beitbridge to assist deportees to return to their

homes, including counseling for those who are victims of

sexual exploitation. Government officials have identified

awareness-raising and identification of the extent of the

problem as necessary first steps for ever greater government

action on this issue.


— H. There was no evidence that any government officials

facilitated or condoned trafficking.


— I. Zimbabwe,s economy remains in turmoil, with

triple-digit inflation and the collapse of commercial

agriculture. With a 25% HIV infection rate, there are an

estimated million HIV/AIDS orphans. As long as the economy

remains in turmoil, there will be limited resources to expand

anti-trafficking activities beyond those undertaken this



–J. The government has designated a single point of contact

in the ZRP for anti-trafficking efforts. ZRP and Department

of Immigration officials participate in regional

anti-trafficking workshops where they discuss government

efforts. It shares information and cooperates with Interpol

and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (see 1.G.).


–K. Prostitution is illegal in Zimbabwe, and the activities

of prostitutes, brothel owners, pimps, and clients are

criminalized. A police crackdown on prostitution in 2004 was

given prominent coverage in the state-run media, with several

articles throughout the year appearing in the newspapers,

including publication of the names of clients arrested in

police operations.


¶2. Prevention:



— A. The government recognizes that trafficking in persons

exists. However, as trafficking is accompanied by other

criminal offenses, many instances were never identified as

trafficking per se but were nonetheless prosecuted. The

government recognizes the need to identify the extent of

trafficking and to conduct a public awareness campaign as

important steps in prevention and is making appropriate plans

to do so.


— B. The ZRP, Department of Immigration (Ministry of Home

Affairs), and Ministry of Justice are responsible for law

enforcement aspects of anti-trafficking efforts. The Ministry

of Public Service, Social Welfare, and Labor and the Ministry

of Education have prevention programs to provide alternatives

to children at risk.


— C. The police have instituted crackdowns against

prostitution in the cities, publishing names of brothel

owners, pimps, and clients in the state-run media. In

addition to prominent coverage of prostitution crackdowns,

the state-run media prominently features articles about

trafficking in persons, describing employment scams and other

types of trafficking in persons. For example, the local press

prominently featured multiple stories about the case of

Zimbabwean women murdered in Kenya after responding to a

false employment scam that promised jobs in Canada.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is developing a notice to

Zimbabwean embassies to inform Zimbabweans abroad of common

types of trafficking and how victims can seek help.


— D. The government has several programs to support children

in groups at high risk for trafficking and child labor. One

problem many children encounter is the lack of a birth

certificate, which is generally necessary in accessing social

services. Parents do not always apply for birth certificates

immediately upon a child,s birth due to the need to travel

to the provincial capital as previously required. Many

orphans have found themselves with no birth certificates and

no way of registering for themselves. In 2004, the government

opened new birth registration centers around the country to

make it easier for parents to register their children.


In 2005, the Government has budgeted 190 billion ZWD

(approximately $30 million USD) for its Basic Education

Assistance Module (BEAM) program, designed to keep at-risk

children in school. Zimbabwe,s public schools, although not

charging tuition, do charge some fees, and students must

purchase their books and uniforms. BEAM pays school fees and

related expenses including books and uniforms for

underprivileged children and AIDS orphans. The program has

been under funded (only 3.5 billion ZWD spent in 2004) and

has not met its targets in previous years.


The Ministries of Education, Home Affairs, and Public

Service, Labor, and Social Welfare also provide support to a

children,s home with a vocational training program funded by

the government of Canada. The home caters mainly for orphan

children and provides both formal schooling and vocational

training to these children, who are deemed at high risk of

becoming victims of child labor and trafficking in persons.

The Ministry of Education accredited the primary school and

has just approved accreditation for a secondary school to be

established at the home. The Ministries of Education, Public

Service, and Home Affairs are developing a curriculum for the

vocational skills program. Police officers refer children

identified as orphans to the Department of Social Welfare

(within the Ministry of Public Service). Social Welfare

verifies the children are orphans and accompanies them to the



— E. The BEAM program has been under funded in the past.

The government relies on other, low-cost methods such as

campaigns in the state-run media, and works with NGOs in

providing social services. (See also 1.i.)


— F. NGOs that run programs such as orphanages and sexual

abuse programs, or that conduct research, require government

cooperation. The Ministry of Education must accredit any

program providing formal education, for example. CLF obtained

Department of Immigration assistance with conducting its

research on child border crossers. In general, cooperation

is good.


— G. There are checkpoints at all of Zimbabwe,s major

border crossings. The Department of Immigration monitors

evidence of trafficking but does not maintain statistics. The

ZRP has attempted to investigate instances of trafficking

that have come to its attention (see 3.f.).

— H. An official in the ZRP is designated point of contact

for anti-trafficking efforts. ZRP and Department of

Immigration officials liaise on anti-trafficking issues.

— I. The government participates in an Interpol southern

Africa law enforcement working group that meets quarterly and

discusses trafficking in persons, among other law enforcement

issues. The government co-hosted one regional working

meeting, including police and immigration officials in

neighboring countries and officials from international

organization and local NGOs. The government is participating

in development of a regional action plan. See also 3.g.


— J. The government does not yet have a national plan of

action. However, the ZRP and Department of Immigration are

participating in regional workshops to develop a regional

plan of action. See also 3.g.


— K. The government,s point of contact for trafficking in

persons is in the ZRP-CID. The Ministry of Home Affairs,

which includes both ZRP and the Department of Immigration,

has taken the lead in Zimbabwe,s regional coordination. The

Ministry of Justice is responsible for training programs for

the courts. The Ministry of Public Service, Labor, and Social

Welfare is responsible for all social services programs.


¶3. Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers:



— A. Trafficking-related crimes are currently addressed

under other legislation, primarily the Sexual Offences Act,

the Children,s Protection and Adoption Act, and the

Immigration Act. These laws criminalize transporting people

across the border for sex, corruption of children and

allowing children to reside in or to frequent a brothel,

allowing children to consort with or be employed by

prostitutes, and forgery of travel documents. The

constitution provides that &no one may be held in slavery or

servitude or be made to perform forced or compulsory labor.8

In addition, the common law prohibits abduction and forced

labor. No new legislation was enacted in the past year.


Victim Friendly Courts (VFC) were specifically created in

1997 to accommodate children and sexual offenses victims. A

trafficked person has the option to take his or her case

before the VFC.


— B. Corruption of children is punishable by a fine, up to

two years in prison, or both. Procuring a person for

prostitution, inside or outside of Zimbabwe, is punishable by

a fine, up to ten years in prison, or both. Exploitation of

children, inside or outside of Zimbabwe, is a crime, but

there is no specified penalty in the legislation; instead,

the presiding Magistrate decides sentencing. (see also 3.l.).


— C. Incarceration is mandatory for convictions for rape or

forcible sexual assault. There is no minimum penalty.

Sentences usually vary from four years to fifteen years,

depending on the circumstances of the crime.


— D. Trafficking cases in Zimbabwe are prosecuted as other

crimes and are therefore not tracked as trafficking cases,

and there are no reliable statistics. However, the ZRP does

investigate cases of trafficking (see 3.f.), and the

government has prosecuted migrant smugglers and other

traffickers (see 3.e.).


We are unaware of any allegations that the ZRP has failed to

investigate possible trafficking cases that had come to its



— E. There was no information that any organized groups

coerced victims into forced labor or prostitution in

Zimbabwe. There were no reports that government officials

were involved.

Police discovered a crime syndicate in Zimbabwe producing

fake Congolese and Gabonese passports for migrant smugglers

transiting people through Zimbabwe. Police also discovered a

migrant smuggling syndicate involving Air Zimbabwe employees;

the employees were arrested and prosecuted.


CLF and Solidarity Peace Trust,s findings show that

Zimbabwean victims near the border are often exploited by

truck drivers, employers, and brothel owners taking advantage

of migrants, economic desperation (see 1.f.).


There is no evidence suggesting the involvement of government

officials in trafficking.


— F. Law enforcement investigated an organized crime

syndicate producing fake passports and another syndicate

involved in migrant smuggling (see 3.e.).


The ZRP actively investigates false employment scams with

police posing as job applicants. In each instance, police

reported that they arrived at the location advertised after

the operation had moved. They said they believed that the

traffickers would place an ad and set up shop for only a day

then move on and place a different ad, limiting the risk of



The ZRP also reported a case of two Pakistani girls who were

brought to Zimbabwe where, together with two ethnic Indian

Zimbabwean girls, they were victimized by a pornography ring.

Efforts to investigate foundered when the victims, parents

refused to cooperate with the investigation, apparently to

avoid stigmatization. Police reported that similar

investigations have been thwarted by the uncooperative

posture of putative victims and their families.


— G. Police and immigration officials attended regional

meetings and workshops on the subject of trafficking in

persons. The government, jointly with Interpol,s Subregional

Bureau for Southern Africa, hosted a Regional Working Meeting

on Trafficking in Persons in November, attended by police and

immigration officials from the region and representatives of

international organizations and one local NGO that deals with

children,s issues. The meeting focused on regional

cooperation between law enforcement and NGOs in different

countries to conduct investigations, identify victims, and

provide care for victims, and Interpol presented the

resources that it has available for law enforcement in

Zimbabwe and other countries. At the meeting, the ZRP

presented a list of recommendations for the government on

cooperation, enacting anti-TIP legislation, and conducting

bilateral investigations to track trafficking across borders.


Prosecutors and magistrates in the Victim Friendly Courts

receive special training in handling victims of abuse.


The Attorney General,s office is developing an anti-TIP

education program for prosecutors and judges to help address

TIP-related issues in prosecutions under existing law.


The government sought and received a training manual from

Interpol,s subdirectorate for Trafficking in Human Beings on

carrying out investigations into trafficking in persons.


A local NGO, Connect, plans to provide training to Zimbabwean

police to identify and document cases of trafficking.


The International Organization of Migration (IOM) and

Interpol plan to conduct a series of capacity building

workshops for government officials.


— H. No specific cases were confirmed.

Police and immigration officials interacted with Interpol and

police and immigration from other countries in the region

(see 3.g.). The government is collaborating on a Southern

African Development Community (SADC) effort with IOM and the

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to develop a

regional declaration on trafficking in persons and to develop

a plan of action. The plan of action would focus first on

assessment of the scope and nature of the problem in the

region then on developing anti-TIP legislation that would

facilitate cooperation on investigations.


— I. There were no reports of extraditions or requests of

extradition from Zimbabwe to other countries. There were no

reports of Zimbabweans charged with trafficking in other

countries. The government has extradition treaties with

countries in the region.


— J. There is no evidence of any government involvement in

or tolerance of trafficking at any level.


— K. Not applicable; see 3.j.


— L. There is no known child sex tourism problem. Sections

of the Sexual Offences Act that pertain to children apply to

Zimbabweans, activities outside of the country.

Specifically, a Zimbabwean engaging in activities that, under

the SOA, are deemed exploitation of children, conspiracy to

exploit children, or inciting another person to exploit

children can be prosecuted under the SOA regardless of the

location of the activities.


— M. The government ratified ILO Convention 182 on December

11, 2000. The government ratified ILO Conventions 29 and 105

on August 27, 1998. The government has not signed the

Optional Protocol to the CRC on the sale of children. The

government has not signed the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress

and Punish Trafficking in Persons.


¶4. Protection and Assistance to Victims:



— A. The government (through the Ministry of Public Service

and Department of Immigration) is constructing, with funds

from Save the Children Norway, a transit center at

Beitbridge. The center will assist young deportees traveling

from South Africa who, according to anecdotal evidence, are

often victims of abuse and sometimes resort to prostitution

because they do not have the funds to return to their homes.

The center will provide temporary shelter for up to three

days, counseling services, and assistance in returning home.

Workers will also contact the social welfare offices in the

children,s home areas to ensure they return to school. The

Beitbridge Child Protection Community published its plan for

the center in January.


— B. No specific victims of trafficking were identified

within Zimbabwe. The government cooperates with Connect,

which provides family counseling, and is working with Save

the Children Norway on the Beitbridge Center (see 4.a.). The

government facilitated access to CLF for its Beitbridge and

Plumtree studies.


— C. No specific victims of trafficking were identified.

According to news reports, foreigners suspected of being

illegal immigrants, which could include trafficking victims,

are transferred to Tongogara refugee camp (a United Nations

camp run by an NGO) pending further investigation.

The government is establishing a center to assist young

Zimbabweans deported from South Africa (see 4.a.).


— D. Victims of existing laws related to child or domestic

abuse are treated with special procedures in the Victim

Friendly Courts. Suspected illegal immigrants are transferred

to Tongogara refugee camp pending investigation but may have

been arrested initially (see 4.c.).


— E. No victims of trafficking were identified. In at least

one case, suspected victims of trafficking would not

cooperate with a police investigation (see 3.f.).


— F. In the Victim Friendly Courts, the alleged perpetrator

cannot see or hear the victim in proceedings.


— G. The Attorney General,s office is developing a

training curriculum for prosecutors and judges to help

address TIP-related issues in prosecutions under existing law

(see 3.g.).


The Government sought and received training manuals for law

enforcement from Interpol (see 3.g.).


— H. The government is constructing a center at Beitbridge

to assist deportees from South Africa, with special services

for victims of sexual exploitation (see 4.a.).


Police and MFA officials say anecdotal evidence suggests that

victims abroad are reluctant to seek assistance from their

embassies, for fear of coming to the attention of authorities

in the host country that could deport them. Instead, victims

receive assistance within their communities abroad, sometimes

returning to Zimbabwe. Officials sometimes hear about

returned victims but they say they do not receive enough

information to follow up. Both the police and MFA have

identified a public awareness campaign as an important step

in assisting with identification of victims and requested

assistance from Interpol and other international sources with

such a campaign.


— I. Save the Children Norway, the Child and Law

Foundation, Connect, the Child Protection Society, and UNICEF

all deal in children,s issues. They all study the problems

of child labor and/or trafficking. Several small

organizations deal with domestic violence and run shelters.

CLF and Connect report cooperation from the government in

gaining access to officials while conducting their

activities. The International Organization for Migration

office in Pretoria, South Africa has a trafficking in persons

point of contact for the region and coordinates with IOM,s

Harare office as needed. There are plans to add an anti-TIP

position to the IOM Harare office.


¶5. Post point of contact for trafficking in persons is

Bianca Menendez; office phone 263-4-250-593, extension 291;

fax 263-4-253-000; e-mail [email protected] The

estimated hours spent per officer in preparation of this

report are as follows: polasst 3 hours, poloff 35 hours,

polchief 15 hours, DCM 1 hour review, AMB 1 hour review.




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