KAJANG: It started with a young man’s daring escape from an apartment in Bandar Mahkota Cheras. This led to police uncovering a begging syndicate that exploited nearly 20 youths from an orphanage in Penang.
The victims had been brought from Penang and were forced to beg for money in the Klang Valley for about two years.
One of the victims, a 21-year-old man, could not take the endless beatings by the syndicate members after failing to earn the “compulsory” daily amount of RM300.
On April 4, the man tried to jump out from the apartment’s window but was stopped by a representative of the apartment’s management.
The representative said the man then climbed down from the fifth floor and sat on a ledge on the first floor, where they found him.
The young man was told not to make any sudden movements and was brought down safely.
He then revealed that he was a victim of the syndicate, and the representative helped him lodge a police report.
On the night of April 6, a police team raided the same apartment and rescued 18 other victims aged 17 to 28. Four of them were women.
It is believed that the victims were kept in two units in the apartment building, while members of the syndicate stayed in another unit.
Selangor CID chief Senior Asst Comm Fadzil Ahmat said three men and a woman, believed to be syndicate members, were arrested in the raid.
“Initial investigations revealed that the rescued youths fell victim to a human trafficking syndicate that exploited teenagers and children to collect donations from people living in Kajang.
“We believe they were duped into collecting donations on behalf of the syndicate,” he said.
It is learnt that police seized several receipt booklets, catalogues of an orphanage for the purpose of convincing donors, two sets of donation forms, a modem, a wireless router, a CCTV and more than RM3,000 in cash.
“The victims have been sent to a safe house where they will remain until April 27,” added SAC Fadzil.
“The four suspects have been remanded until Thursday.
“The case is being investigated under Sections 12 and 14 of the Anti-Human Trafficking Act 2007 for people and child trafficking offences,” he said.
SAC Fadzil urged anyone with information on the case to step forward to help with investigations.
It is understood that there may be more youths being forced to beg and told to come back with at least RM300 a day.
State Social Welfare Department deputy director R. Chitarthany said that the department was unaware of the matter but it would investigate.
“If the orphanage was registered with us, we would know their daily operations, even if they go on an excursion.
“I think this particular home might be an illegal one,” she said.
Chitarthany added that Penang had 25 registered homes, including those for orphans, disabled children and old folk.