A Chinese man named Chen Dehu (39), along with Joseph Rabson (44) and Shame Mafido (57), appeared in court in Harare for trying to illegally traffick three 17-year-old girls to China for forced marriages.

They appeared before Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa and were charged with breaking the law against trafficking in persons, according to NewsDay.

What transpired:

Chen, who is married to Rabson’s child, came to Zimbabwe in October and allegedly planned to traffick the girls without their knowledge. It is said that Chen, Rabson, and Mafido promised the victims false education scholarships and jobs to deceive them. Rabson and Mafido are said to be close relatives of the victims.

On October 18, the three transported the girls from Karoi to Harare and booked a room for them at 27 Hillview Lodge. They stayed there for four days while waiting for their travel documents to be processed.

The accused individuals also obtained new birth certificates to change the girls’ ages from 17 to 20. Acting on a tip-off about minors being held at the lodge, detectives from the CID Counter Terrorism Unit arrested the three suspects.

Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa remanded them for a bail ruling.

In the past, many Zimbabweans have fallen victim to human trafficking. They are promised good jobs in other countries, but instead, they end up being enslaved or forced into sex work. Some have been rescued, but others are still trapped in these terrible situations. Unfortunately, some of them have also contracted HIV. Authorities are urging the public to be cautious and carefully verify the identity of agents offering opportunities abroad. If you have already been trafficked, it is advised to seek help from the nearest Zimbabwean embassy.