Kenya

Ethiopians arrested in Makueni to take plea on Wednesday

Ethiopians arrested in Makueni to take plea on Wednesday

Some of the 60 Ethiopians arrested in Daraja Mbili, Mkueni when they appeared at Makindu Law Courts on September 20, 2021. They will take plea on Wednesday.

Photo credit: Pius Maundu | Nation Media Group

Sixty Ethiopians who were arrested at Daraja Mbili, a roadside market near Kiboko Township along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway, will remain in custody until Wednesday when they will be charged with being in the country unlawfully, a court in Makindu has ruled.

“The 60 suspects will take plea on Wednesday when the court will secure an interpreter," Makindu Law Courts Principal Magistrate Jared Magori, the said Monday.

He at the same time released eight of the suspects who had been brought to court and who were arrested in villages around Kiboko Township on Saturday.

They 60 had jumped out of a truck that was ferrying them towards Mombasa as the driver, Martin Ndunda, made merry together with two unidentified men at a popular drinking den in Daraja Mbili township.

Police placed Mr Ndunda at the centre of a highly knotted human trafficking ring involving dozens of Ethiopian men and some shadowy figures.

Mr Ndunda was remanded after failing to raise a Sh500,000 bond that the court imposed on him on Friday to secure his freedom.

Popped out of truck

“We watched in bewilderment as dozens of men popped out from the tarpaulin covered trailer of Mr Ndunda’s truck meant for ferrying raw material for making cement after slicing the tarpaulin. A forested section behind the market swallowed the young men, sparking real fears that we had been surrounded by the dreaded Somali-based Al-Shabaab militia. That notwithstanding, some bold traders mounted a chase, caught up with some of the strangers and frogmarched them to the market where a crowd had gathered. Our bid to interrogate them did not bear fruit as the youthful men could not express themselves in Kamba, Swahili or English,” Francisca Kyengo, a trader at Daraja Mbili market who witnessed the drama told the Nation.

“Although the youthful men appeared frail, we were afraid they could explode on us. We served them water, chapati, beef stew and vegetables from a safe distance after our fears subsided. The police who had already gotten wind of the strangers had swung into action,” Ms Kyengo added.

The Ethiopians were tested for Covid-19 at Makindu Law Courts before they were placed in custody.

In court, they could not take plea as they could not speak English or Swahili.

Mr Magori said the court was making arrangements to provide an accredited interpreter on Wednesday.