Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Nile Treasure Gate Company Limited, a labour export recruitment firm has refuted allegations of conspiring to traffic Judith Nakintu, 38, to Saudi Arabia where she purportedly lost her kidney.
This follows the arrest of two directors of the company on Thursday when they appeared at the Criminal Investigations Directorate – CID headquarters in Kibuli, Kampala for interrogations.
The CID spokesperson Charles Twine declined to divulge details about the suspects when contacted by URN on phone. However, reliable sources have confirmed the quartet are being detained at Jinja Road Police Station pending further inquiries.
The suspects include Mariam Mohammad, Sulaiman Abubaker Kato, Salmah Mohammed, and Ali Hassan. Mariam, Kato, and Salmah are directors of the company while Hassan was the commission agent who directly recruited the victim.
Accounts by Nakintu’s family implicate the Kiwatule based Nile Treasure Gate Company for enlisting and sending her to Jeddah on December 12, 2019, as a housemaid where she was mistreated for several months and later repatriated with a missing right kidney.
The family explained that while in Saudi Arabia, Nakintu underwent an ‘unexplained surgery’ procedure. She suffered a stroke that paralyzed her and rendered her helpless to fend for her five children.
“We have several reservations regarding the media reports about the incident that preceded the victim’s miserable condition. We would like to categorically state that Ms Judith Nakintu was involved in a motor accident in Saudi Arabia. The subsequent stroke paralyzed her left side, NOT the extraction of her kidney as stated,” reads part of the company’s response.
Adding that, “First of all, the statement that the kidney was extracted when Ms. Nakintu’s employer took her to the hospital to get a COVID-19 vaccination was in March 2020, yet the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved in December of the same year discredits the whole story.”
“Ms. Nakintu was involved in an accident on 1st March 2020, and in the same accident were seven other people, including her employers, and their children (according to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Police Traffic Report in Jeddah, which was received and translated by Makerere University,” a statement dated 12 February 2022 read.
The company says several days after, they got information that two children of Nakintu’s employer died instantly, and fortunately Nakintu survived with severe injuries and a blood clot, according to doctors at King Fahad Hospital in Saudi Arabia where she was admitted for over a year.
Further, the company says the Hospital’s report also showed multiple external bruises, bruises of the lungs with a simple bloody air gathering inside, liver bruises, thrombosis of the right kidney artery, pelvic fractures, and pelvic bone injuries which Makerere University translated.
According to Nakintu’s family, they contacted the company which helped them liaise with their bedridden daughter, but after some time, the company cut off communication channels thus igniting suspicions.
But the company blamed the communication gaps between Kampala and Jeddah on the global COVID-19 pandemic as both cities were under lockdown. “But we always tried to give timely updates to the family until August 2020 when some family members suspected foul play in their daughter’s condition,” the company said.
The company claims that after her discharge in April 2021, they paid Nakintu’s accommodation, their caretaker partner in Jeddah, adding that following pressure from the Embassy in Saudi Arabia and family, they bought an air ticket and flew her back to Uganda after raising Shillings 30 million in compassionate financial welfare support.
Upon her return, Nakintu was evacuated from Entebbe Airport by the company accompanied by her family members to Mulago National Referral Hospital for medical examination where two different scans were conducted.
Mulago Scan Report
“The radiologists at Mulago did two scans. The first preliminary scan was unclear, and the company paid for the second and more comprehensive one, which indicated that the right kidney was missing,” the company recounted.
According to the company, the arrest of the two directors on Thursday 10 February, a relative and an agent following two days of police interrogation is likely to jeopardize investigations in Saudi Arabia.
Migrant Workers’ Voice
Abdallah Kayonde, the President of the Migrant Workers’ Voice, an International Non-Governmental organization in Kampala that advocates for and promotes the rights of migrant workers later picked interest in the case and wrote to the company demanding Shillings 600 million for unlawful extraction and sale of the victim’s organ.
In December 2021, Nile Treasure Gate Company was among 15 external labour recruitment agencies that the government through the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Gender, Labour, and Social Development suspended on allegations of abuse, extortion, forgery and trafficking.