CAPE TOWN - Two suspects are expected to appear in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate’s Court on Monday for alleged human trafficking.
On Thursday, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) rescued three trafficked victims from an alleged brothel operating under the guise of a guest house in Benoni.
The victims are aged 18, 29 and 33.
According to Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Philani Nkwalase, the 18-year-old victim, who had been visiting relatives in Vanderbijlpark, was allegedly lured to Benoni by someone she reportedly met on a dating site and kept in contact with via social media.
The victim was last seen at the home of her relatives on December 26 and then failed to answer her cellphone.
Nkwalase said the victim reportedly contacted her cousin and told her that her cellphone had been taken. She also said she was being held against her will and forced into a life of sexual exploitation.
“The joint police team led by the Hawks‘ Serious Organised Crime investigation team in Vaalrand, working together with Sedibeng K9 unit, Vanderbijlpark Task Team and the Missing Persons Co-ordinator, pounced on the guest house and traced the 18-year-old victim after her family opened a human trafficking case.
“Two more victims from Sebokeng and KwaZulu-Natal province were rescued along with the 18-year-old and were taken to a place of safety,” Nkwalase said.
Officials arrested two suspects aged 25 and 39 for contravening the Trafficking in Persons Act 7 of 2013, which outlaws trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
Provincial head of the Hawks Major-General Ebrahim Kadwa welcomed the arrests and commended the multidisciplinary team for arresting the alleged traffickers.
“With gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in the spotlight, our efforts also contribute to quelling this phenomenon,” he said.
Kadwa advised women to exercise caution when interacting with strangers on social media.