A West Vancouver woman accused of keeping a 21-year-old African woman in slave-like conditions in her mansion will appear in court Aug. 10 after her arrest last month.
RCMP said Thursday they arrested Mumtaz Ladha, 55, on July 19 when she arrived at Vancouver International Airport from an African country.
Ladha faces one charge of human trafficking and one charge of human smuggling after the 21-year-old alleged she had been confined to Ladha’s British Properties home and was forced to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week with no pay.
After Ladha was arrested, she was released the same day on a promise to appear in Vancouver Provincial Court this month.
RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Annie Linteau said Ladha came back of her own accord “knowing full well that she would be arrested when she arrived here.”
RCMP said Ladha is accused of hiring the woman to work in a Vancouver-area hair salon in the summer of 2008, but when the woman arrived in Canada, her passport was taken away and she was forced into demeaning servitude.
Police said this included hand-washing the underwear of everyone in the house, hand-washing the cars of guests, and eating table scraps to survive.
RCMP said she was only allowed to sleep once everyone else in the house had gone to bed.
The woman fled to a woman’s shelter in June 2009, where she received immediate assistance and the RCMP were notified.
The home where she was kept is a three-storey mansion, with an indoor pool and outdoor basketball court, valued at $3.1 million, according to a 2011 B.C. Assessment report.
On Thursday, Elizabeth Empetin, 51, answered the phone and identified herself as Ladha’s Filipino live-in caregiver.
Empetin said she has worked for the family since November of last year, but the Ladhas have not lived in the house during that time and she had not heard from either Mumtaz Ladha or her husband for several months.
Both charges faced by Ladha carry severe penalties.
Human smuggling alone carries a maximum fine of $500,000 and a 10-year prison sentence for a first offence.
This is only the second time a B.C. resident has faced a human trafficking charge.
Linteau could not say which African nation the 21-year-old hailed from or Ladha fled to.