Mercy, aged 22, works at the cash register at a supermarket in Mombasa. She earns barely enough to support herself and her daughter after her boyfriend abandoned them when she was pregnant. She dreams of a better existence and better work. After a few days she realizes she has served the same woman once a day for the last week. The woman keeps shopping in the supermarket and using the checkout that Mercy works at. They engage in a friendly conversation and Mercy has no suspicions. The woman tells Mercy she works in transportation and moves goods to Dar es Salaam. Mercy says that sounds interesting and that she wishes she could travel. The woman gives Mercy a piece of paper that has a contact number and outlines a job transporting goods between Mombasa and Dar es Salaam. Mercy calls the number that night and speaks to the woman who provides further details of the work and the salary offered, which is KES5,000 for each return trip to Dar es Salaam, with half paid at the start of each journey and half on return. Mercy accepts the offer. She resigns from the supermarket before meeting the woman and another man two days later. Mercy and the man travel to Dar Es Salaam by bus. She is given KES2,500 and a bag, and told to keep the bag with her inside the bus as it contains valuable electrical equipment. She is also told a house help will be sent to where she lives to look after her daughter.
Mercy and the man then board a bus to Dar es Salaam and she is told to use her Kenyan ID card to enter Tanzania at the Lunga Lunga border crossing. The man says he can’t sit next to Mercy on the bus as he has a lot of important calls to make, but he briefs her on what to say at the border. They arrive at Lunga Lunga and Mercy enters the Immigration building after the man. He clears Immigration and waits outside with Mercy still in the queue. The Immigration Officer asks Mercy questions about what she is doing and where she will go in Tanzania. Mercy follows the advice given, saying she will visit friends in Dar Es Salaam, but the Immigration officer is suspicious of a young woman leaving Kenya for the first time on her own and asks if she has luggage. Having always been honest Mercy says yes and the bag is taken off the bus and checked. Drugs are found inside the electrical equipment. Staff on the bus confirm the bag is Mercy’s and she is arrested and imprisoned. The bus continues to Dar es Salaam with the man aboard. Mercy claims the woman and man set her up but there is no proof and the police don’t believe her. She never sees the man and woman again and is left trying to make arrangements for her daughter from inside prison.
- Was Mercy lured into this situation and deceived? – No. She was not forced to do anything by the woman and man that she didn’t agree to.
- Did Mercy agree to perform the work offered? – Yes.
- Was Mercy free to leave the work and talk to family and friends? – Yes. She retained her phone and was not held captive by the woman and man.
- Was Mercy physically, sexually or psychologically abused by the woman and man? – No.
- Did Mercy have valid identification and was she in possession of such documents? – Yes.
- Was Mercy paid and were there any conditions of employment? – Yes.
- Did Mercy fear that something bad will happen to her, or to a family member, if she leaves the job? – No. Only after her involvement with the woman and man ended and she was in prison was she worried about her daughter.
- Has Mercy been trafficked? – No. She was unfortunately used to smuggle drugs into Tanzania, but agreed to the work offered and was not forced to do anything against her will by the woman and man.