The Hawks have rescued women allegedly trafficked to South Africa from West Africa in a shipping container.
A 34-year-old woman was arrested on Saturday for her alleged involvement in trafficking in persons.
She is expected to make her first appearance at the George Magistrate’s Court.
According to Hawks spokesperson Siyabulela Vukubi, a tip-off led to the arrest and rescue mission.
“The Hawks received information on Wednesday that three young girls had been trafficked from West Africa into South Africa a few months ago inside a shipping container.
“They were allegedly given fake passports. Information was that the girls were advertised on an escort website and were kept in a residential complex in George,” said Vukubi.
He said the serious organised crime investigation team operationalised the information and a search was conducted at the premises.
This led the unit to discovering four women at the property, whom the Hawks suspected to have been trafficked.
“The victims who are between the ages of 21 and 47 were rescued and kept in a place of safety after they were taken for medical assessment.
“The suspect, who is allegedly the caretaker on the premises, was arrested on charges of contravention of Section 4(1) and Section 7 of the Prevention and Combating of the Trafficking in Persons Act, Act 7 of 2013,” said Vukubi. A number of police operations and tip-offs have recently led to the rescue of people said to have been trafficked.
Two suspects from Zimbabwe, Tafadzwa Nakakurwa, 46, and Beulla Maruza, 41, appeared in court last Thursday over human trafficking after being found to have been allegedly transporting 14 children to Cape Town.
The matter was postponed for a bail application.
Early this month police arrested a suspect after 33 suspected human trafficking victims were found stashed in one room at a house in Benoni, in Gauteng.
Recently a number of reports, including the “Research into the Nature and Scope of Trafficking in Persons in South Africa: Prevalence Insights from the Criminal Justice System and Relevant Reporting Mechanisms” found that South Africa has become a source, transit point and destination for human trafficking.
UCT criminologist Dr Simon Howell said human trafficking was a serious crime where people are lured with jobs and even children were exposed to multiple forms of exploitation.
Missing Children SA said: “This is something that seriously needs to be addressed and the government needs to implement stricter measures ensuring that the culprits are brought to book.
“Once again people within our communities need to report such matters to be investigated. If they know something, we need to stand together to make a change.”