Durban - Three men convicted of human trafficking and running a brothel with girls as young as 12 years old were sentenced to an effective 85 years in jail on Monday.
Durban Regional Court Magistrate Simphiwe Hlophe sentenced Sandile Patrick Zweni, 41, Nonduzo Dlamini, 27, and Bhabha Dubazini, 33, who were in March this year found guilty of a host of charges related to the prostitution ring that Zweni operated from a Durban Hotel.
The combined total prison sentence handed to Zweni for his 39 convictions was 315 years, but with several of the sentences running concurrently he will only have to serve 35 years – and if granted parole he could be released even earlier.
Dlamini was sentenced to a total of 304 years for his 38 charges, but his effective sentence amounted to 25 years.
Dubazini’s total sentence amounted to 250 years, but his effective sentence amounted to 25 years.
The total sentence of all three men amounted to 869 years.
All three were convicted of racketeering, running a brothel, the sexual exploitation of a minor, living off the earnings of prostitution, human trafficking for sexual purposes and dealing in cocaine. Zweni and Dlamini were also convicted of kidnapping, while Zweni was also convicted of raping a minor and assault.
Zweni was the mastermind behind the prostitution ring that operated for about 10 years from the Inn Town Lodge, owned by Dr Genchen Rugnath and his wife Ravina.
The Rugnaths were also accused of being involved, but Magistrate Hlophe acquitted them, saying that the State’s key witness implicating them was less than honest.
Several girls testified during the trial following the arrest of the five in 2012. They told the court that they were given drugs for free and once addicted, they were sent out by Zweni and his men to prostitute themselves to pay for their addiction.
In sentencing the three men Hlophe said that poverty and poor economic circumstances made it easier for human traffickers to drive young women into a life of drugs and prostitution.
“Human trafficking is one of the world’s most shameful crimes,” said Hlophe. “What these girls endured was difficult and painful.”
He said that it became apparent that the only way the girls could deal with the prostitution was to take the drugs.