A Zimbabwean national who became a victim of human trafficking in Oman early this year said she was promised US$700 per month to work as a housemaid in the Middle Eastern country.
Speaking to NewsDay from her home in Marondera, Martha said she travelled to Oman on 19 January this year together with her friend.
She said an immigration officer at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport warned them against going to Oman but they ignored him. Said, Martha:
If we had listened to this immigration officer, we could have avoided this trouble. He begged us to cancel the trip but we were determined to go and ignored him.
Martha said when they arrived in Oman, she and her friend were taken to two different bosses and that was the last time she saw her. She said:
At the airport in Oman, they confiscated our passports and other documents. I was taken to a town that I cannot recall.
For a week I worked in 48 rooms in different houses. The boss would take me from house to house.
I got sick because of my workload but their medical team said I had fibroids.
She said her bosses later decided to sell her to another person, this time in Khulabella South. Said, Martha:
They told me that I was a kardama (slave) and that I was in Oman to work for two solid years before being set free.
I tried to contact a Zimbabwean agent in Oman who had recruited us to tell him that I was sick and that the work conditions were not favourable.
The agent said he had done his part, adding that I should stop bothering him.
Despite working in a big house with about 16 rooms, I slept under the staircase.
There was an empty storeroom but they could not allow me to sleep there.
At times I was told that I was smelly, and they would open all the doors and windows for fresh air. It was painful.
Martha also claimed that she suffered hunger and starvation in Oman and when she got sick, she was denied medical treatment. She said:
If you get sick in Oman, they give you Panadol painkillers. They love those pills. Hunger was the order of the day.
They would eat spitting in their food so that you could not even try the leftovers. They would order their supper online and there was nothing for me.
The painful thing is that I would be ordered to cook for cats that strayed into the yard.
They said Allah loved generous people hence the need to feed the wild cats.
I would ask myself why people preferred to feed cats instead of another human being.
Martha said she finally secured her freedom after she lied to her bosses that her mother had died. She said:
After telling them that my mother had died, my bosses demanded a burial order.
My relatives back home then managed to secure a fake burial order which they sent to Oman.
The bosses demanded that my relatives buy plane tickets, including the return ticket.
After learning of my ordeal, the travelling agent sent a counterfeit return ticket, which convinced the bosses that would return to them.
I was given US$300 as my salary, but my male boss took US$100 from me saying it was surety for my return. They also barred me from packing all my clothes.
Martha arrived back in the country on 26 March but her bosses in Oman have been demanding that she must return and resume doing her slavery duties.