Five Kenyan men who went to Malaysia in search of greener pastures are now crying for help to return home after months of struggles in the foreign country.
The five, Charles Macharia, Geoffrey Maina, David Kevin Ochola, Dickson Otieno, and Sospeter Ngahu, said they moved to Malaysia in April 2023 through a Kenyan agent identified as David.
In Malaysia, they were handed over to a Malaysian agent identified as Annand, who referred them to a shipping company in Johor Bahru where they were working as casual laborers.
The five, however, suspect a dirty game between the two agents as they have never received any pay since they were employed at the firm and have been surviving on donations from friends and family.
After questioning about their pay, the firm informed them they were paid through agent Annand. The agent later informed them that he had bought them for 5,000 Ringgit each (Malaysian currency equal to Sh156k), and that’s why he was receiving their payment.
“We feel we were sold here as slaves because Annand said he had bought us, and that is why we are not being paid. This is modern-day slavery,” Ngahu told Citizen Digital.
Efforts to contact their Kenyan agent have been fruitless, as he no longer picks up their calls. With nothing to keep them afloat, the young men are now anguishing in the streets of Johor Bahru, sleeping on staircases of an abandoned warehouse.
“We’ve been sleeping on these cartons since we don’t have anything. We are stuck here and even the company terminated our employment and gave us a notice to vacate this warehouse by September 1. But we have nowhere to go,” Ngahu added.
The five say their families cannot raise the amount of money needed for them to come back home, and that’s why they are still stuck in Malaysia.
Each of them needs around Sh105,000 to cover for their flight and fines. According to them, the Malaysian government has fined them Sh35,000 each for overstaying, an amount they are supposed to pay before leaving the country.
In addition, a flight back to Nairobi from Kuala Lumpur will see each of them part with Sh70,000.
Efforts to get support from the Kenyan embassy in Malaysia were futile as the embassy demanded they first raise the money for the fines and the air tickets to Nairobi.
The five have called for the Kenyan government to intervene to help them return home to their families.