GEORGE NEWS - Athenkosi Mfeno, a 29-year-old barista from Themablethu, went through a dreadful ordeal after he was promised a salaried job, food and a place to stay in Ibra, Oman, in the Middle East.
His actual encounter was removed very far away from the attractive picture that had been painted by a woman named Salma to whose Whatsapp advertisement for the job of barista he had responded.
"In my mind, it is difficult to process what happened to me and I think I would need some counselling," said Mfeno to the George Herald.
But his nightmare has turned out to become a story of love, support and strong community spirit as friends, family and the George Community Forum (GCF) back home stood together to pull him out of an almost impossible situation.
About R30 000 raised through donations and the relentless efforts of Xolisani Booi of the GCF through the South African Embassy assured his safe return. Mfeno arrived home earlier this week. He also got his old job back as barista at Caspita in George.
'Not what was promised'
Upon his arrival in Ibra, Mfeno was taken from the airport to a hotel where he isolated in terms of Covid protocol. "This was all great and it was a nice hotel, but after the quarantine was over I was taken to the place - much like a hostel - where I was to stay. There I realised that all was not above board.
This was not what they had promised. The place was small and barely furnished. There was only cold water and they sometimes forgot to bring us our promised meals. The meals were very simple and mostly not nearly enough. We were eating milk and dry bread twice a day.
There was no place to wash your clothes and we were forced to wear the Arabic tunic."
He says his personal documents such as the Oman work ID that was issued to him and his passport were kept by his employer, so he was not able to move around in the city for fear of being arrested. "He took the documents under the pretense that they wanted to make copies, but I never got them back."
He shared his living quarters with a Nepalese man who was in the same situation. Later a third man from Ghana arrived.
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