Opinion: Criminals Tarnishing Africans’ Image In Cambodia

Nigerians and Cameroonians with criminal intentions

As an African man who is living in Cambodia, I read an article in CNE about a Cameroonian being arrested for scamming recently and my heart sank for mother Africa.

Cambodia is quite a peaceful country with a well-cultured populace; something that is not found in many other countries worldwide. The cosmopolitan nature of the expatriate community in this country shows how motherly the Cambodian soil is, and rarely do you see a foreigner being harassed by law enforcement agents without a reason.

The long embracing Khmer hands have, however, attracted some foreign criminal elements, fugitives and failed nationals. We have read a lot about some expatriates being arraigned before juries for their criminal acts of various degrees.  In a report posted on its Facebook page, The General Department of Immigration stated that the prisoners who include 249 women are as follows: 581 Vietnamese men and 168 women; 703 Chinese men and 24 women; 72 Nigerian men and one woman; and 42 Thai men and 26 women. This has led me to dedicate this article to Africans and how their image is being tainted in Cambodia by its fellow comrades.

Africans in Cambodia

Generally, Africans are hardworking, loyal and determined when employed. Educated Africans are such a pleasure to work with and a sizeable number, if not the majority of the formally employed ones,  are working in the education sector.

Most English-speaking Africans come from countries that were once colonized by Britain and these include South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Cameroon, Rwanda and Kenya. There are teachers who are well qualified, working in schools that have done proper research to get the best teachers with skills that are rare.  

South Africa and Zimbabwe generally have a higher figure of their white populations in Cambodia, whom do not find it difficult to fit in, and are never recognized by local people as Africans.

Cambodia is fast developing and the civilized parents’ community which is sending their children to international schools has warmed up to the black Africans who are proving their mantle in most of the schools they work in. They have proved their competence without reasonable doubt- after all, when one has requisite qualifications and abilities, he must be given the job. It’s heart-warming to see that Cambodians are very much welcoming to all people regardless of race, creed, religion or ethnicity, a clear testimony of a fast-developing country whose future is very bright.

Africans’ image

The image of Africans has been tarnished by some criminal elements within it and the major culprits being the Nigerians and Cameroonians.  According to a report published by Phuong Vanitha (18/07/2020), the former commands a sizeable population in the country’s African population in its prisons. The major crimes being drug trafficking , scamming and flouting immigration laws.  

Admittedly not all nationals from these countries have criminal intentions in Cambodia. My time in Cambodia has shown me that some of the Nigerians and Cameroonians have no passports, or are just living on expired visas, while others have married local women for convenience sake, but they allegedly get involved in so many illegal activities that other Africans are even afraid of them, or are bullied financially.

There have been allegations of them running a lot of scams online that prejudice unsuspecting social media users of their hard-earned money worldwide. The Cambodians have also allegedly fallen prey to these scamming antics evidenced by the recent arrest of a fake money scamming syndicate. Recent publications by the CNE supports this.

The con artists live lavish lifestyles and can afford anything in their lives. Most shy away from the public scrutiny and are only seen at dawn and dusk, or online with pseudo names. They aren’t employed and cannot justify their sources of income.

Robust Policing

The police must investigate these illegal activities that are fleecing unsuspecting individuals of their hard-earned money and flush them out of Cambodia. Africans in Cambodia are tired of being painted by the same brush, making everyone be treated with much scepticism.

This has led to genuine Africans with proper qualifications having to go through a lengthy bureaucratic processes to get e visas, something that is easier for their European counterparts. If this is not done, the shenanigans will become a motivating factor for others and the list of scammers will keep on ballooning.

The other trend is that these criminals also have the potential to draw in some other unsuspecting Africans and local Cambodians, who may be used as conduits unknowingly, by sending or receiving dirty money on their behalf.

The government must continue raids to flush out criminal elements in the country.

*This opinion peace was submitted by the author, who wishes to remain anonymous. The views expressed are those of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of CNE.

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