South Africa is classified as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking, with more than 53% of the population vulnerable to the $150 billion (about R2.3 trillion) industry.
This, according to anti-human trafficking non-profit organisation, A21, and the US Trafficking in Persons Reports, not only signifies that victims are trafficked out of the country, but also that foreign victims are brought into South Africa and some moved through country.
South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks) have made several arrests in the fight against human trafficking. The most notable ones:
Reverend Timothy Omotoso
Leader of the Jesus Dominion International Church, Omotoso, was arrested in Port Elizabeth by the Hawks in 2017 and faces 48 charges including sexual assault, rape and human trafficking.
Omotoso’s third bail application was recently dismissed. He said the courts were robbing him of his freedom as no new evidence was presented by the defence since his previous bail bid in 2017.
Kingpin Ediozi Odi
Last year, Odi was sentenced in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to six life sentences and 129 years’ imprisonment for human trafficking.
He was charged after keeping three girls hostage in a dungeon, where they were raped and forced to smoke a drug called “rock”.
Syndicate Brothel Bust
In 2017, the Hawks made several arrests in the case of a brothel syndicate, human trafficking and extortion in Milnerton, Cape Town.
Earlier this year. Natasha Chang, the 10th suspect in the brothel bust that was linked to brothels in Table View, Big Bay, Bellville and Cape Town, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
Meanwhile, co-accused Norman Bridger, was sentenced to 20 years for racketeering.
Family receive collective 80-year sentence
Malibongwe Gudwana, his mother Thandiwe, and the 14-year-old victim’s aunt, were sentenced to a collective 80 years’ imprisonment for charges of rape and human trafficking.
Malibongwe was given 55 years imprisonment for rape, human trafficking, kidnapping and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. His mother was sentenced to 10 years for human trafficking and three years for kidnapping, and the aunt to 12 years imprisonment for human trafficking.
Chinese nationals arrested for human trafficking
Seven Chinese nationals were arrested in November last year for alleged human trafficking and violation of South Africa’s labour laws. They made their first court appearance in October this year.
The seven accused, four male and three female, were arrested during a joint operation, for allegedly trafficking illegal immigrants into South Africa, subjecting them to forced labour and running an illegal enterprise called Beautiful City in Village Deep, Johannesburg.
During the joint Blitz operation, 91 Malawian nationals were found in the factory, of which 37 of them were children.