Durban - A group of four people was convicted of an array of charges that include human trafficking, rape, kidnapping and child pornography.
Tshepo Motswasele, 22, and Katlego Anele Rakgwale, 20, were each handed hefty sentences for their role in the 2018 crimes.
NPA Gauteng spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said the Gauteng High Court sentenced them each to 18 terms of life imprisonment, with an additional 27 years imprisonment.
The other two accused - Cox Nhlanhla Molefe, 23, and Noluthando Masia, 21, will serve 18 and 20 years imprisonment, respectively.
In addition to trafficking in persons (TIP) charges, the accused were also convicted of assault with intent to do grievous bodily and pointing something resembling a firearm and theft.
Explaining the sentences, Mjonondwane said: “Their reign of terror started during the period May to July 2018, when they lured a 17-year-old victim to Fleurhof, where Motswasele, Rakgwale and Masia resided.
“She (the victim) was promised money in exchange for sexual intercourse.
“On arrival, she was threatened with an object resembling a firearm and held against her will at the premises.
“She was further assaulted and raped repeatedly.
“She was threatened to such an extent that she was compelled to assist them in finding two more female victims, who were then made to suffer the same ordeal as she did.
“Photos and videos were taken whilst the accused took turns raping these women.”
Mjonondwane said the court heard that one of the victims was released after she pretended to be pregnant and bleeding.
“The accused, however, sourced another victim, and they took their three victims to Rakgwale’s family home in Dobsonville, where Motswasele and Molefe raped them. The accused again released a victim when they realised that her boyfriend knew where she went to meet them.”
The victims were rescued after police received information about the goings-on at the flat and conducted a raid.
“Accused 4 (Masia) was initially also treated as a victim, but during the investigations, her role and involvement became apparent, and she was arrested and charged, accordingly.”
In arguing for hefty sentences, Senior State Advocate Rolene Barnard stated that trafficking in persons poses a risk to stability in society, causes humanitarian violations, and is equal to modern-day slavery.