Dar es Salaam. Fifteen people were yesterday charged with recruiting and transporting disabled people from several parts of the country and subjecting them to involuntary street begging for personal gain.
At the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court, the accused were also charged with money laundering, failure to pay tax and causing a Sh31 million loss to the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).
Those arrested include 71-year-old Dar es Salaam businessman Sadikiely Meta who is also alleged to be the owner of the guest house that was used to harbour the disabled people, most of them children.
The arraignment of the accused came two weeks after the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for the disabled Ummy Nderiananga made an impromptu visit at various part of Dar es Salaam where she found disabled people being kept in guest houses by people allegedly using them for own gain.
Dar es Salaam and other major cities in the country have witnessed an extraordinary increase of people taking around disabled people on wheelchairs, particularly children with autism, for begging purposes.
The ‘business’ has become so notorious that the deputy minister was caught in video clips publicly whipping individuals caught doing the job.
Section 4 (1)(a) (b) and sections 6(1) (2) (a) of The Anti-Traffcking in Person Act of 2008 criminalises recruitment, transportation and harbouring of a person for, among other things, involuntary servitude, prostitution and forced labour.
Such offences are considered as severe trafficking in person if the trafficked person is a child or a disabled person and the adoption is effected for the purpose of forced labour and involuntary servitude.
Mr Meta and co-accused are alleged to have transported to Dar es Salaam about 37 disabled including children of between seven and 11 years from Tabora and Shinyanga and turned them street baggers for personal gain. Others were Yusuph Mbuani, 35, Joseph Magafu, 20, Emmanuel Salu, Gogad Mayenga, 18, Samson Akunahai, 26 and Husein John, 18.
On the list are also Zacharias Paul, 18, Dotto Shigula, 19, Petro Simon, 21, Emmanuel Sahani, 38, Joseph Mathias, 20, Massanja Paul, 21, Aminiel Sangu, 21 and Emmanuel Lisinge alias Salimu, 25.
They are facing 41 charges including one being of leading organised crime, 37 involving transportation of the disabled and subjecting them to involuntary street begging for the purpose of earning revenue.
Other charges include that of failure to pay tax, causing loss to TRA and laundering Sh31 million facing Mr Meta alone.
Senior state attorneys Mkunde Mshanga and Wankyo Simon told Principal Resident Magistrate Kassian Matembele that the accused are facing economic sabotage charges.
Mshanga alleged that between August 2020 and January 2021, Meta and co-accused lead organize crime of transporting disabled people from various parts of the country for personal gain.
The disabled who were subjected to involuntary street begging and were being kept at a guest house in Tandale area in Da res Salaam.
They are Rashid Shija, Kwangu Shida, Paulina Lukendo, Amina Msingwa, Elizabeth Kazige, Mbuke Masanja, Senyi Doto, John Makudya, Amosi Madustsha, Joseph Malimi, Kashindye Sugwaida, Joseph Kulwa and Dotto Silas.
Others are Kashinje Ennamuel, Happyness Bezagurwa, Zengea Zikamo and 26 others.
Mr Simon told the court that investigation into the case were still going on as he asked for another date of mentioning the case.
The accused were not allowed to enter plea and will continue to remain in custody because human trafficking offences were unbailable under Tanzanian laws.
The case was adjourned to January 26, 2021.