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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Atlanta Couple Liable|for Enslaving Woman

(CN) - An Atlanta couple lured a Swaziland native to the United States for the purposes of making her their slave, and should be held liable for their actions, a federal judge ruled.

Thembi Dlamini sued Juna and Michael Babb on August 13, 2013, claiming the couple held her for two years, and forced her to work without pay in their home and business.

As recounted by U.S. District Judge William Duffey Jr., the Babbs ensnared Dlamini with false promises that she would be working for only two weeks in preparation for a wedding, and thereafter could return home.

In her court filings, Dlamini said Juna Babb helped her get a passport and visa, assisted her in filing the appropriate immigration paperwork and supplied her with a plane ticket to get from Swaziland to Atlanta.

But once she arrived in the United States, Dlamini said she found the situation to be much different than she expected.

Dlamini alleged Juna Babb required her to surrender her passport and return ticket before they arrived at the Babb residence from the airport.

Duffey's order states that the Babbs required Dlamini to live in their basement and not to leave the property. After the initial two weeks, Dlamini requested to return to Swaziland but Juna Babb refused to let her go, instructing her instead to continue care for their grandson.

Dlamini claims that Juna Babb admitted to deceitfully enticing her to the United States and threatened her with arrest because she was in the country illegally.

Each day, Dlamini began work at five in the morning and worked throughout the day with few breaks and no time for vacation. She provided care for the Babb's grandson, worked in the home and yard, and also for Michael Babb's construction company.

Dlamini said the Babbs did not pay her for the work she performed, and that they deducted money in consideration of her food and other costs of living.

After two years of servitude under these conditions, another couple that she worked for under the Babb's direction helped Dlamini escape from their control.

In December 2009, the government indicted the Babbs on charges related to harboring aliens for commercial and private gain. Both Michael and Juna Babb were sentenced to time in prison after pleading guilty to various human trafficking and involuntary servitude offenses.

According to the order, Dlamini assisted the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in their investigation of Michael and Juna Babb.

Judge William Duffey Jr. granted all five counts of Dlamini's motion for summary judgment after the couple failed to respond to court orders and Dlamini's pleadings.

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