File picture: IOL.

JOHANNESBURG - Five suspects were arrested in Johannesburg for the kidnapping of three teenagers of Ethiopian descent outside of South Africa, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) said on Thursday.

In a statement the DPCI, more commonly known as the Hawks, said the five suspects, also of Ethiopian descent, smuggled the teens into the country and kept them against their will in Gauteng.

"Their parents, who are based in North West, were then reportedly contacted with ransom demands of R50,000 per child for their release," Hawks spokesman Lloyd Ramovha said.

"The teenagers have been rescued and taken to a place of safety as investigations continue."

The five suspects are expected to be charged with human trafficking, kidnapping and extortion.

African News Agency (ANA)