Ex-doctor guilty of keeping 'slave'
Wednesday 16 March 2011
A retired doctor was convicted today of forcing a middle-aged woman to be her £10-a-month "slave".
Saeeda Khan, 68, trafficked African Mwanahanisi Mruke into Britain, then forced her to sleep on the kitchen floor of her suburban London home for three years.
After bringing her into the country from Tanzania, she initially gave her an allowance of £10 a month to work around the clock at her beck and call. Within a year she ceased to pay her altogether.
As a jury at Southwark Crown Court found Khan guilty of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation, Ms Mruke said she could "never forgive" her captor.
"I felt like a fool, I was treated live a slave," she said.
"Even the money I was promised, I was never paid. I feel terrible about this.
"I was hoping I would receive a salary and improve my life. But my hopes were dashed, my strength was reduced and I became unwell."
During her three-year ordeal from October 2006, Ms Mruke's parents died and her daughter was married. Yet Khan granted her no contact with her family.
"I have missed all the love from my family," Ms Mruke said. "My father's love, my mother's love and my daughter's love."
She was brought to the UK after getting a job at a hospital in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania which Khan owned.
Khan offered her the chance to move to the UK as a domestic servant, telling her she would work six hours a day.
It was agreed that Ms Mruke's daughter in Tanzania would be paid 120,000 Tanzanian shillings a month - equivalent to £50 - while she would receive a £10 allowance in London.
But although the arrangement was initially honoured following her arrival in the UK in October 2006, Khan stopped paying after the first year.
Khan fed her two slices of bread a day and ordered her around by ringing a bell she kept in her bedroom.
The 47-year-old was banned from leaving the house in Harrow, north west London, and never learned English because the family watched Pakistani TV.
Her working day began at 6am and she would often not be allowed to rest before midnight as she cleaned, gardened, cooked meals and accompanied Khan's disabled son on walks.
Ms Mruke said she was paid £120 for her first year's work, just £10 a month, and received no pay for the following three years.
"I didn't have any time for myself at all," she said. "I worked for very long hours - sometimes I didn't sleep.
"I used to do all the housework, cook, cleaning, inside and out.
"She didn't attack me physically. It was just the words and the way she was treating me."
The victim's plight was discovered only when she went to see a doctor for an examination of her varicose veins.
Even then, Khan continued to shout at her in the medical centre car park, in front of a Swahili interpreter, who raised concerns about what she had seen to the authorities.
Recalling her ordeal, Ms Mruke said: "I was working very hard and I became ill. I was working many hours, impossible hours.
"I feel that justice should be passed and others should learn from this. I feel terrible about her.
"She should pay me compensation but I have lost lots more.
"I lost my family and my health is not so good at the moment. I feel that if I go back home, my life may not be safe because of what I have said about Mrs Khan."
Khan, sitting at the back of the court instead of in the dock, did not react as the unanimous verdict was relayed to her through an interpreter.
It had taken the jury seven hours and 38 minutes to return with a verdict.
Judge Geoffrey Rivlin told the court she had been found guilty of "appalling greed" in what was a "most unusual case".
He said: "This is such a clear case of exploitation and I am very concerned because the victim in this case was put through an awful experience."
Mrs Mruke was not in court to see Khan convicted today. She could receive compensation from Khan, whom the court was told has a £500,000 house and £82,000 in one bank account alone.
The judge said of Khan: "You will not be surprised that compensation will loom large in my thinking."
He told Khan, who will be sentenced later, that she will not go to prison however, adding: "She is 68 years old. I will put her out of her misery. I am not going to send her to prison immediately, although a suspended sentence is very much on the cards."
He said the ill health of two of her children, and her own poor health, were contributory factors.
Information about her financial affairs will be given to the court before she is sentenced.
Judge Rivlin said: "This was an offence actually of the most appalling greed and I think that when one is concerned with an offence of that nature, very often the financial implications of the offence are of real importance when it comes to sentence."
The judge warned that the consequences could be "very serious" for Khan if he is not given the full picture about her finances. She could also be liable to pay prosecution costs.
Speaking of the unusual nature of the offence, he added: "I was told this is the first case of its kind in which an adult had been charged with exploitation of this kind, as opposed to exploitation by bringing the victim into this country in order to use her as a prostitute, or something like that."
He praised the police for their work, saying they had done a "marvellous job" in bringing Khan to justice.
Judge Rivlin adjourned the case until later this afternoon, when he may pass sentence.
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