After successfully escaping from the painful life of a street kid, fate dealt Godknows Maseko another painful experience that saw him travel to South Africa, China, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil – not in search of wealth or fame – but as a victim of human and drug trafficking. Together magazine’s Rose Chipumphula Chalira, narrates Maseko’s chilling story.
It was in 2004 when a friend invited Maseko togo to South Africa for work. He says he wasemployed by a white man as a houseboy in Heartbeats Bow Dam Town. It did not take long torealise that he was trapped. It was a case of humantrafficking unfolding. He was turned into someonewho smuggled narcotics, guns and shells. He was a victim of a syndicate that operated all over southern Africa and beyond.
From the beginning, he did not know that the friend who had invited him to South Africa, was working with dangerous traffickers. The houseboy job was a front job to cover the real things he was made to do. Six months after arriving in South Africa, he was in the hands of traffickers who badly abused him. He was used as a drug carrier together with three other girls who were also trafficked from Chikwawa, Chiradzulu and Mzimba. The three girls could not speak any of the local languages. They were victims of child trafficking, he explained.
He explained that the girls told him that they came to smuggle cocaine to South Africa. The drugs were stuffed in their bodies. On several occasions, the ‘big boss’ instructed his boys to tie Maseko’s legs and arms while naked and abuse him. The girls were also sexually abused before sending them on a drug peddling mission.
“They applied petroleum jelly into my anal area before inserting tubes of cocaine into my body. They would leave about a metre of thread hanging out before dressing me up in an expensive suit, Wilson hat and glasses. They then would rape the girls and insert the tubes through their birth canal in my view. These girls, I later learnt, were two months’ pregnant. The subsequent trips that we had were the same. After successful drug transportation, they underwent a procedure of induced abortion,” he narrated.
Once the mission to deliver drugs was on, Maseko and the girls were the last to board the plane and the last to disembark. Their passports were quickly scanned at immigration desks. When they reached their destination, a string would be pulled to retrieve the cocaine from him and the girls. Immediately after retrieving the drugs, the three were locked together in a room.
Maseko said that if he had known in advance that his friend was dangerous, he could not have travelled to South Africa for the so-called greener pastures. He only knew that it was human trafficking when the abuses started.
“When I realized that I was in the hands of bad people I started working on ways on how to escape. I was thinking about how I could also help the three girls to escape but in the end I succeeded in escaping alone. Up to this day I feel bad that I did not rescue the girls whose health conditions were deteriorating,” said Maseko.
He revealed that he managed to escape with the help of the big boss’ young son. The son told Maseko that his father was planning to kill him.
“The boy knew about the plan to kill me after he peeped into his father’s e-mail box. Eventually, the boy reported the father to the police. This prompted the father to try to kill him. I escaped and managed to come back to Malawi with my clothes only,” he says.
Currently Maseko is involved in awareness campaigns on human trafficking aired on various radio stations, Television stations and published in newspapers. He also organizes village meetings to sensitize rural masses about the dangers of trafficking. Maseko acknowledged that most people are still in the dark about human trafficking issues.
“We need adequate resources in the campaign against human trafficking. A lot of people think human trafficking is not real. When I narrate my story to them, they think it’s something from the movies. Yet every day we are losing a lot of people to human trafficking from Malawi,” he said.
Maseko is the founder of Step Kids Awareness (Steka), an organisation that rehabilitates street kids and abandoned children by providing them with a safe home. He also offers counselling services to children who are at risk of being trafficked. He warned youths to be on alert as human trafficking is real. Maseko said traffickers have the intention to kill their victims once they realise that there are loopholes to have them exposed.
“Youths should not be carried away with things; sometimes they are excited about job opportunities in South Africa and elsewhere but on the ground, things are not as reported. We must make sure we gather full information of where we are going and the one who has invited us. Security is paramount in these issues. For me, I didn’t know that a friend who I trust most, could do such a terrible thing to me,” Maseko said.
He said it’s high time the country made a firm stand and say no to human trafficking and end corruption as it is a recipe for the vice. Maseko explained that most perpetrators of human trafficking operate like mafias, have a lot of money “and can easily corrupt authorities and buy justice.”