Well, the report’s been made. What’s left is for the boy and the other kids to be saved. Let’s see what’s next…
Awurade eeeeeeeeeeeeee!! M’awu oooooooooooooooooooo!!!
Ao! Ao! Ao!
Whyyyyyyyy? God, whyyyyyy??
Superintendent Joseph Larbi snapped out of his unpleasant reverie, eyes blood-shot.
It was 8 pm, and he had briefly drifted into an unpleasant doze, his subconscious deciding to replay the results of the last two cases he had dealt with that had not gone well. The first found the young girl dead after being raped, and the whereabouts of the second one was still a mystery.
To say it was worrying was an understatement. The wails of the murdered child’s parents were impossible to get out of his brain. Aside that also was the fact that these stories found their way into the media, and of course, that meant the public confidence was dropping with each passing day. It wouldn’t be long until calls for his head started making the rounds on social media and the like.
As he got up and walked up and down the office, mumbling prayers more to himself than to God, the phone rang.
Maintaining his composure, he calmly picked it up and answered.
After about a minute or so of listening, he exclaimed, “What??!! That Mr. Ampong guy? The one who owns JOZI Frozen Fish stores? My goodness!”
He listened further, then shook his head. “The voice note had Jerry James on it? Unbelievable!”
He rushed to his desk, taking out a pen and writing the details being given to him.
“Alright, excellent. Perfect. Thank you, Sergeant.”
Hanging up the phone, he went straight for his other phone and immediately called the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Eastern Region Police Command.
“DSP! Intelligence reaching me indicates that the little boy Benjamin Bart-Plange has been located somewhere in Prampram, along with four other children currently unidentified. Currently in the possession of one Joseph Ampong, who is working with Jerry James. Yes, the notorious Jerry James. The intelligence further indicates that they will be moving to the Afram Plains. Plans to set off at 2100 GMT, so they arrive by 0600 tomorrow. We need personnel at your end to apprehend them as soon as possible. I repeat, as soon as possible!”
A few minutes to 9 o’ clock.
Jozi looked impatiently at his watch as he walked around the house. Dressed in a red lacoste shirt and jeans, he made his way to the guest room downstairs to check on the children and see if they had eaten the food they had been given.
He opened the door and peered inside.
The five youngsters, all between the ages of 6 and 8, including Benjamin Bart-Plange, were huddled together, shivering and crying, having picked at bits of the food. They may have been hungry, but terror and the desire to be back home with their parents outweighed that.
Jozi shook his head and shut the door.
The desire for wealth was something that had always driven him. From the days of his youth till date, some of his favourite mottos were Ɛnfa ohia nka nkwasiasem (don’t use poverty to talk rubbish) and wonni sika aa, wose kelewele ma jaundice (because you don’t have money, you claim kelewele gives jaundice). For him, money was an essential aspect of life, and he would do whatever was necessary to make lots of it. To proclaim that money is not everything was the talk of fools to his ear.
Of course, there was nothing wrong with his desire to be wealthy. The issue was that he loved money and the finer things in life so much, he had developed the willingness to do whatever it took to make it.
Even though he owned a frozen fish store which did very well and was the source of his money, he was not satisfied. He wanted more. The lifestyle of fancy cars, dapper suits, respect and all was too addictive to remain where he was.
This led him to discover about the lucrative business model of human trafficking. Finding it preferable to drug and illegal arms trade – trades he considered cliché – he opted to go for it. His first meeting with Mr. Jerry James Biney, a veteran in the trade who was highly elusive and could be super difficult to trace, was a smooth one, where the forty-plus year old man welcomed him on board and assured him he’d be swimming in wads of cash in no time flat.
So far, he had overseen the sale of some seven children to one boat master. The low-key nature of the job, coupled with the heavy proceeds that followed, left him pretty mind-blown and left him convinced that this was what he needed to keep his bank account and life comfortable. He had a good reputation too, with his humble, cool disposition and his regular acts of charity within the community, so being exposed was highly unlikely.
Did he feel bad about separating children from their parents and having them sold off into a life of hard labour? Sometimes. But he reminded himself of his number one aim in life whenever that happened, and that seemed to possess enough bullets to shoot down his conscience.
His phone rang at exactly 9 o’clock. It was Jerry James.
“I’m outside. The truck is ready. Have they eaten?”
“Barely. They just picked at the food a bit.”
The master trafficker sighed over the phone. “Oh well, I anticipated something like this. Good thing I have some anesthesia here, just in case.”
Jozi was stunned. “Huh? How the… where did you…”
“Never mind. That’s not what matters. Just come and open the gate and let me deal with them so we can move straight away. By the way, it seems you dropped your credit card outside…”
As Jozi walked out of the house, with the limp body of Benji on his shoulder, he locked the door and carried the little one to the truck, where Jerry James, clad in a T-shirt Jozi’s workers wore, took the unconscious boy and placed him beside the other children, also knocked out by the dosage administered to them. He then carried the few boxes of frozen fish Jozi had left outside earlier into the truck to conceal them.
Jozi shook his head. “I still can’t believe you didn’t just bring that up when we spoke earlier. Would’ve been easier to just knock them out with the anesthesia myself, instead of…”
“Gentleman, do you know not any idiot can just get up and administer this?” Jerry James snapped back as he zipped up the back of the truck, having placed a sticker of Jozi’s business on each side of it. “Do it wrong and you’ll end up killing them. In any case, feeding them was necessary. They need the little strength they can get. It’s gonna be a hard life for them afterwards.”
Jozi looked uninterested. “Well, you know my major concern is the mon…”
“Massa, we’re all doing it for the money. It’s not an excuse to do a lackadaisical job. If you’re going to do it, do it well and stop that ‘I only care about the money’ rubbish. Do I look like I do it for anything else? Have you gotten more out of this than me?”
Jozi was silent. No use arguing with the older and more experienced man. He had a point, after all.
Jerry James stood in front of him. “Now listen to me, young man. I’m helping you out because of how critical this situation is, with the way the Benji boy’s info is rapidly spreading. Once I’m with you, you better listen to what I say and follow my leadings. You’re only gonna go far if you humble yourself and actually learn. Can you slip through the hands of the police like me? Can you remain as elusive as I? Can you claim to know the tricks of the trade more than me? Huh?”
Jozi shook his head reluctantly.
“Good. Then we’re clear about one thing: you don’t know this business more than me. So no more misbehaviour. Follow my lead and stop questioning me as if you know better. Understood?”
“Yes, sir. Sorry for the sauciness.”
“I hear you. Now let’s get moving! It’s 9:07. Got to move immediately!” he barked as he unzipped the bag he was carrying and took out a fake beard and spectacles, fitting them on his face before jumping into the driver’s seat and starting up the car.
Hopefully the police catch them in time…
© Qwamenah 2019