Family charged after teen is rescued from human trafficking syndicate
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Cape Town – A 13-year-old girl was rescued from an alleged human trafficking syndicate in Heidelberg and two of her family members were arrested, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (known as the Hawks) in Gauteng said on Wednesday.
Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase said the women, aged 36 and 57, were arrested for conspiracy to sell a minor for sexual exploitation, abduction and theft of a child.
The arrest happened on Tuesday after a multi-disciplinary operation by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption and Organised Crime Investigation teams in Vaal Rand, Nkwalase said in a statement.
“The investigation team followed up on suspicious human trafficking activities planned in the Heidelberg area where a stepmother and step-grandmother allegedly conspired to sell their 13-year-old stepdaughter to a human trafficking syndicate for R40 million,” Nkwalase said.
“A waylay investigation was put in motion and the joint police team seized the R30 000 entrapment cash and electronic gadgets for further investigation. The rescued minor was taken to a place of safety.”
The women are expected to appear in the Heidelberg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and investigation continues.
Hawks Provincial Head, Major General Ebrahim Kadwa, commended the arrest and said illegal brothers in the Vaal Rand were dismantled in the past few months.
“What is rather disturbing with this situation is that family members were found to be involved in the alleged crime committed against their own,” Kadwa said.
“Setting up an operation of this magnitude shows bravery and we applaud the investigation team for executing it without anyone being harmed and the child was rescued safely.
“In the past few months we have made a major breakthrough in successfully dismantling illegal brothels in the Vaal Rand where police officers were arrested for human trafficking related allegations.”