A Tanzanian who trafficked minors from his country to Kenya has been jailed for 30 years.
While appearing before Principal Magistrate Agnes Mwangi at the Makadara Law Courts in Nairobi, James Sengo Nestroy was ordered to pay a Ksh30 million ($241,000) fine or in default serve the prison term for charges of economic exploitation and resisting police arrests.
Sengo, who has lived in Kenya since 2001, was arrested last year following an exposé by BBC News Africa on the theft and sale of babies in Kenya.
In a matter where the prosecution said ten witnesses testified in the case, the court heard that the physically disabled minors were found harboured in Kariobangi North estate and that Sengo had resisted arrest.
“The prosecution’s case (PW1) is a Tanzanian national. He was brought to Kenya by the accused after the accused talked to his mother and they agreed that he comes to Kenya with him to beg. The two then travelled together to Nairobi by road and thereafter the accused (Sengo) introduced PW1 to a man called Amos who would take him out to beg in Thika. PW1 further alleged that the accused would take the proceeds,” the judgement read.
The trial magistrate ruled that it was heartless for Sengo to traffic an innocent child and, worse so, physically disabled and exploit his condition for personal economic gain.
“The evidence proves that the accused was exploiting the victim for his own economic gain by abusing his vulnerability and his status as a person living with immobility after smuggling him from Tanzania,” the magistrate ruled.
Following the BBC documentary which highlighted how children were stolen from a city public hospital, the then Inspector-General of police Hillary Mutyambai ordered investigations that later unearthed child trafficking.
Promise of better life
The media investigations revealed that children stolen from Tanzania would be trafficked to Nairobi and Thika.
Many were taken from their parents with the promise of a better life.
Instead, the children were forced to beg on the streets for years while their captors took all of the proceeds.
Some of the victims alleged they were beaten if they did not make enough money.
Following the BBC expose in July 2022, at least 78 beggars, allegedly from Tanzania, were arrested in Nairobi in an operation targeting a secret trafficking network.
The move prompted Tanzania to impose stiffer penalties on child traffickers.
In September last year, Tanzania approved amendments to the local anti-human trafficking laws to include tougher penalties such as lifetime jail terms and fines of up to Tsh200 million ($86,000).