History teachers tell students that Abraham Lincoln is responsible for abolishing slavery with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. While that has become the accepted version of history, critics counter Lincoln only succeeded in the transfer of ownership of slaves from plantation owners to the United States government. In either case, slavery as depicted in history books and movies was a thing of the past… or so we were led to believe. Although not sanctioned and sponsored by government entities, variations of slavery still persist. The trick is the loopholes in the laws that allow for the exploitation of people’s labor. One Texas woman believed that she was making use of such loophole until federal agents came in and shut her operation down.
37-year-old Nelia Angelina Mulembwe was sentenced Wednesday to six months in federal prison after she admitted to flying in a nanny from Africa to work for years without pay. Mulembwe wasn’t charged with slavery however. She was charged with fraud and misuse of visas, permits and other documents.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Mulembwe told visa officials that the nanny was a student from Mozambique who would be in the United States for only a month. In reality, the unnamed nanny was being held hostage, captive in a Collin County apartment and forced to work without break while sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the children’s room. She was not paid for her work but Mulembwe did send her family $70 a month.
It took agents two years before they could rescue the nanny from the apartment. Her age was not released to news outlets for publishing.
East Texas Radio reports that Mulembwe is also a national from Mozambique. In essence, an African enslaved another African further distorting the slavery argument many blacks have in the US with non-blacks. According to East Texas Radio:
“According to information presented in court, in June 2017, law enforcement officers received a tip that a Mozambique national was being held captive in a Collin County apartment. An investigation revealed that the victim had worked for Mulembwe as a nanny and housekeeper in Mozambique. In 2015, Mulembwe applied for a visa for the victim to accompany her and her children to the United States. Mulembwe falsely represented that the victim was a student and would be coming to the United States for a month-long visit. However, after arriving in the United States in October 2015, the victim stayed in Mulembwe’s apartment where she slept on a mattress on the floor in the children’s room and worked constantly with no time off until she was rescued by federal agents in June 2017. During this time, the victim’s family in Mozambique was paid the equivalent of approximately $70 a month, but the victim received no compensation for her services. Mulembwe was also ordered to pay restitution of $108,699.25 to her victim, which represents fair wages the victim should have received.”
“Labor trafficking is modern-day slavery,” said U.S. Attorney Brown. “Cases involving trafficking of people for the sex trade seem to get more attention, but these types of cases, where people are forced to work for little or no pay, are becoming more common. The cases involve the denial of basic human rights, and the type of people who are victims are particularly vulnerable. Federal law enforcement will continue to investigate and prosecute these cases, and we hope that the public will report situations like this when anyone becomes aware of them.”
The Dallas News reports that another wealthy couple in Southlake, were in arrested on similar charges. The couple allegedly brought in a girl from Mozambique and ordered her to work for 16 years without pay. Mohamed Toure and Denise Florence Cros-Toure of Southlake, both 57, each face a federal charge of forced labor.
The couple is accused of abusing the girl and restricting her from being able to attend school.