Pretoria - The minor who wanted to plead guilty for human trafficking in the trial of the five people accused of operating a Springs prostitution ring may have been also a victim.
The trial was due to start this week in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, but it was stalled after accused No 3, a petite 17-year-old girl, said she wanted to plead guilty to an array of human trafficking and sex-related charges.
The teenager, with her mother at her side, was taken to another court where she pleaded guilty in front of Judge Hennie de Vos yesterday.
During questioning by the judge certain facts came to light which placed a question mark on whether she was not perhaps also a victim.
The proceedings - held in camera as the accused is underage - was postponed to August 23. In terms of the Human Trafficking Act, a social worker will now have to establish the facts from the teenager.
This will be measured against the statements of other witnesses. A report will then be submitted to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether the teenager’s prosecution should go ahead or whether she should turn State witness against her four co-accused.
Their trial was meanwhile put on hold to decide the way forward.
The 17-year-old was implicated prominently in the indictment and named in most of the charges.
It was alleged that she was part of a sex ring where unsuspecting underage girls were approached on the streets. They were invited to visit the house in Springs, where the accused lived.
The unsuspecting women had no idea that they were visiting a brothel. The State claimed that once they walked through the doors, they were not allowed to leave.
They were allegedly introduced to drugs and one of the accused, a Nigerian citizen, said to be the kingpin, allegedly raped them to prepare them to work as prostitutes.
One of the victims was a teenager aged 14, taught how to use drugs. Once she was hooked on drugs and allegedly raped by her pimp, she was allegedly forced to have sex with clients in return for drugs.
Her alleged Nigerian pimp kept the money she earned from the sex trade and kept her locked up in the house at all times. She did not roam the streets for clients, but they visited her in the house.
Two other teenagers, then 15 and 16, allegedly suffered the same fate.
The three alleged victims are expected to testify in court against the accused - two men and two women.
They have not yet pleaded to the charges, which include several counts of rape and statutory rape, but they have indicated that they will plead not guilty.