A commercial motorcyclist who along with community leaders played a key role to help foil a human trafficking deal in Banjor, Montserrado has testified against defendant Hawa Bangura who was allegedly on the verge of selling two trafficked Sierra Leonean victims for US$3,500.00 in Liberia.
Mr. Lahai Kamara told Criminal Court “A” in Monrovia Tuesday, 8 January how Banjor Community Chair and whistleblower Molley Passawe pretended to agree a deal to buy 37 – year old Famata Kanu and her 4-year old daughter Kadiatu Kromah from Hawa in November 2017.“[While] the chairman was about to record Madam Bangura all of the people including the security advisor told Hawa including the chairman that they were under arrest,” says Kamara.
Liberia’s 2005 Act to Ban Trafficking In Persons sees the transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by means of the threat …, giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation as trafficking in person.
It mandates a sentence of a minimum of one year imprisonment if the convicted person used, threatened use, or caused another to use or threatened use of a dangerous weapon.It says two years shall be added to the minimum sentence. Additionally, it says if the trafficked person has not attained the age of 18 years, 5 years shall be added to the minimum sentence.
In his testimony, witness Kamara says he drove chairman Molley on his motorbike at Hawa’s residence in Banjor with a camera to have the transaction recorded, and they had a security team also planted unknown to Hawa to have all of them arrested during the transaction.
Witness Kamara says he first encountered Hawa Bangura in 2017 when he drove her from the late Togbah Shop at Banjor Turning Point to Banjor Rock Creek for LD$20.00.While driving the passenger Hawa, Kamara says the accused inquired from him if human beings were sold here in Liberia, but he told her that he did not know.But he says Hawa allegedly told him that she had business and she wanted customers.
According to Kamara, he was afraid to give his actual contact to Hawa, but his brother and a motorcyclist friend later advised him that he would have used that means to safe two children that were about to be trafficked sold by defendant Hawa.Mr. Kamara says he later told Hawa that he had a business partner, following which he told chairman Molley that the human trafficker had agreed to see him (Molley).
“On our way the chairman took a camera to record the transaction, before our arrival to Hawa I told the chairman to put his camera on and he did,” Kamara explains.He says the transaction was later scheduled for the next day, 29 November 2017.Based on the agreement with Hawa, Kamara says he and the chairman went to her house and met the children hauling water.
According to Kamara, Hawa told the victims to go to her boyfriend’s (Lahai’s) house because he never had money, in an apparent effort to get them accompany the witness and chairman Molley unknowingly as commodities already sold.While the chairman was about to record Hawa, Kamara says they were including the chairman and all them, including the witness were taken to Zone 6 Police Depot and their statements were taken.
According to the indictment, chairman Molley reported the incident of alleged trafficking in person case on 30 November 2017 involving victims Famata and Kadiatu and defendant Hawa.
The indictment says Famata and Kadiatu arrived in Liberia but had no place to sleep for three days before they met one Mohammed who sheltered them.Hawa allegedly used to go to the house, and on one occasion, introduced Lahai as her boyfriend. But the indictment says she constantly slept out and left Famata and Kadiatu at Mohammed’s house.She allegedly allegedly arranged with Lahai to sell the victims for US$3,500.00, the indictment says.
By Winston W. Parley