Underage girls have been “rescued” from at a bottle store in Blantyre’s Ndirande Township as police investigate claims they were forced into prostitution.
Police said the bottle store was also being used as a brothel and the rescued girls were in Standard Four and Six respectively.
According to police, the suspect in the sex slavery a 38-year-old Veronica Bulla from Mpondasi Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mponda in Mangochi who was operating a bottle store around Ndirande Makata area, picked the girls under the pretence that they would be working in a shop. But instead they were forced into prostitution .
Blantyre Police Station spokesperson Elizabeth Divala said Bulla had allegedly been using her Zomba-based accomplice to recruit young girls to work as bartenders as well as prostitutes at her bottle store.
The sex slavery was exposed after last Sunday after one of the girls, aged 12, escaped from the bottle store and reported the matter to her parents in Zomba.
On the day they went missing, according to the Daily Times, unidentified Zomba-based recruiter accosted and convinced them that she would offer them well paying household jobs in Blantyre and gave them K500 each and promised to give them more when they get to Blantyre.
The recruiter then handed them over to Bulla, who runs a bar called “Asante Sana” in Ndirande where they were assigned to be providing beer to clients, apart from sleeping with the patrons.
The girls also told the law enforces that they occasionally being taken to some popular drinking joints in the commercial capital courtesy of the woman and her clients.
For providing sexual services to some patrons, the girls could get up to K2, 000 a day. And the money was being given to suspect, who according to the girls, could allow the victims meet strangers without her consent.
However, the younger girl managed take away ‘K6000 with which she used to travel to her home village in Zomba after escaping from Ndirande.
She alerted her parents, who together with the other girl’s parents, reported to Blantyre Police and with the direction of the girl, the police raided the drinking joint in area called Zambia where they arrested the suspect and freed the other girl.
At the bottle store, there still some girls who are entertaining imbibers.
Meanwhile, a medical test conducted at One Stop Centre at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital found that one of the girls is HIV positive.
Meanwhile, Police has charged Bull with three counts of abduction, child trafficking and child labour contrary to sections 78 (1) (2) a, b, c and 79 (1) (2) of Childcare, Protection and Justice Act Number 22 of 2010 and Section 21 (1) of Employment Act number 6 of 2000 respectively.