After successfully escaping from the life of a street kid, fate dealt Godknows Maseko another painful experience that saw him travel to South Africa, China, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil not in search for wealth or fame, but as a victim of human and drug trafficking. He shares his fascinating story with our staff writer DUMASE ZGAMBO-MAPEMBA.
As I enter the gate, I find a lot of little boys playing football; the usual scene you find when visiting a house full of bubbly children.
Some older girls are busy washing, while the younger ones are cheering the boys as they play.
As a dog, that so much resembles a fox, relentlessly barks at me, one of the youngest boys shoos it away and mocks me.
“If you keep looking that scared he is going to seriously bite you,” he warns.
When he sees my face freeze with fear as I run into the house, he goes into stitches of laughter.
While I comfortably sit inside the house, a line-up of polite children come to greet me, one by one. They are so many that I lose count. The home does not look anything like Sanjika Palace or the White House. There is nothing luxurious or attractive about it, but it is full of love and warmth.
Godknows Maseko sits there, proudly looking at the proceedings before he narrates his story to me.
Why the name Godknows?
When he was born in 1974, his parents were not staying together. His maternal grandparents who were a little bit well to do never wanted their daughter to be married to a pauper. As a result, Godknows never stayed with his father. But his father gave him the name Charles.
When he was seven months old, he was admitted to a hospital after being seriously attacked by measles that paralysed his legs.
The irony of it was that his mother was a mere hospital ward assistant who never got any financial assistance from her well-to-do family.
While he was in hospital, his mother received a letter from his father ending their relationship. His mother was overwhelmed with all this and, therefore, out of desperation the mother changed the name from Charles to Godknows.
As the name predicts, the mother found herself jobless and could barely fend for the two of them.
“Imagine, after I had passed my end-of-year exams in Standard Seven, my mother told me she could not afford to pay for my fees which was K3.50. She was scared that I could get selected to a secondary school after Standard Eight and I would be disappointed because no-one would pay my school fees,” he laments.
Life as a street kid
After quitting school at 12, he ran away from home in Lirangwe and went into Blantyre City to live on the streets.
“Life was not easy in the street. During the rainy season and winter, we used to sleep under the Mudi Bridge. We would just cover ourselves with cartons and light fire to keep warm,” he explains with a distant look.
He says as a street child he was subjected to a lot of abuse by the older children.
“I just look at people when they say that this mathanyula [homosexuality] thing is a new concept. My best street-child-friend, Evance, was almost raped by an older street kid if it had not been for my shouting for help. The street language for this act is called kudyana mididi,” he narrates.
After the incident, he had to move to Limbe since the older boys had banned them from begging around Blantyre.
But he took his begging too far. He went as far as Muloza Border and Chiringa in Mulanje with an aim of emigrating to Mozambique.
But one day, Maseko escaped death by a whisker after being shot at by unidentified people in Mozambican while he was in a classroom where he took refuge with a Mozambican woman.
That was his Damascus moment. He returned home just like the prodigal son in the Bible.
A victim of human and drug trafficking
While at home fearing losing him again, his mother allowed him to go back to school although she knew that she could not afford the fees. But he took the initiative to do piece work or dance kwasakwasa at a night club in Lunzu to pay his school fees.
Things changed when a Good Samaritan, a Mr. Kajiya from Reserve Bank of Malawi, supported him financially.
“But before I sat the Malawi School Leaving Certificate Examinations (MSCE), Mr Kajiya was sent abroad and we lost touch. This forced me to ask my biological father to assist me with examination fees, among others,” he recalls sadly.
Maseko passed his examinations though he did not qualify for university.
“In 2004, I went to South Africa where I was employed by a white man as a house boy in Heartbeats Bow Dam Town, only to be turned into someone who smuggled narcotics, guns and shells from other countries like Namibia,” he explains.
As he talks, the dining room is buzzing with children. Cries are heard every now and then, but the older children are groomed to take care of such situations. So, our conversation continues.
“Then he told me that for the last time we should go to China. I was excited. We went with three girls who I later learnt were fellow Malawians from Chikhwawa, Chiradzulu and Mzimba, but could not speak any of our languages. They were victims of child trafficking,” he says sadly.
The girls told him that they all came to smuggle cocaine to South Africa in their bodies. At that point, the good bwana instructed his boys to take Godknows to another room and bind the latter’s legs and arms together before stripping his off his trousers and underwear.
“They applied petroleum jelly into my anal area before inserting a chain of cocaine in tubes. Then they left about a metre of thread hanging out before dressing me up in a very expensive suit, Wilson hat and glasses.
“They then raped the girls and inserted the tubes through the vagina in my full view. These girls, I later learnt, were two months pregnant. The subsequent trips that we had were the same. After successful drug transportation, they were given a forced abortion procedure,” he narrates.
Godknows and these girls were usually among the last to board a plane and also the last to disembark. The passports were quickly run through immigration. They were drugged and lucid.
“Human trafficking involves corruption. Those perpetrators are like mafias and have money. When we reached our destination, they would just pull out the string to retrieve the cocaine from me and take the girls for D and C [a surgical procedure often performed after a first trimester miscarriage]. Then we would be locked in a room together,” he says.
Maseko said he connived with the girls to run away but the plan was thwarted.
“After the China and Venezuelan trip, the Argentinean trip is the one that rescued me. They took me to Argentina with an aim of killing me to transport the cocaine in my body and use my private parts as bait for catching sharks,” he says.
Luckily, the boss’s mother died in a car accident. But after getting back to South Africa, his boss’s 13-year-old son revealed to Godknows about the plot the former stumbled upon after sneaking into his father’s e-mail box.
“Eventually, the boy reported the father to the police. This prompted the father to try to kill me. I escaped and managed to come back to Malawi with nothing but my clothes,” he says it with a hint of embarrassment.
Prior to his leaving for South Africa, he had thought of helping street kids. That is when after a preacher preached to him about the story of Jonah in the Bible he remembered his dream of setting up a home for orphans and street kids.
Today, he is taking care of 37 children at Step Kids Awareness (STEKA) Children’s Home in Nyambadwe, Blantyre, together with his wife despite the fact that they do not have biological children of their own yet.
“I have many kids. I don’t want my wife to risk anymore,” he says. n