The two, who ran a brothel in Arcadia, were sentenced in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in a case believed to be a first in this division.
Obioma Benjamin Abba, 32, was sentenced to an effective 12 years imprisonment, while his brother and the mastermind, Chinedu Justine Obasi, 38, was given 18 years.
Obasi was “the boss” - the man who recruited prostitutes and held them virtually as prisoners in a flat. He was also the one who provided them with drugs and he took their night earnings for himself.
Although the legislature called for life imprisonment in cases where people are convicted of human trafficking, Judge Ronel Tolmay found that there were mitigating factors in this case. She said the brothers were first-time offenders and that they had spent more than two years in jail awaiting trial.
The judge also said that although the two women who worked as prostitutes for the brothers were exposed to a lot of trauma they were already in the sex trade and hooked on drugs when they were recruited by the brothers.
Judge Tolmay said the fact that a life sentence was mandatory in these cases if there were no mitigating factors proved how adamant the legislator is to eradicate crimes of human trafficking. “A mere slap on the wrist (as punishment) will not be tolerated,” she said.
Two prostitutes earlier told the court of their harrowing life on the streets, while their pimps kept them hooked on drugs.
Both have since turned a new leaf, although they told the court they still had nightmares and flashbacks from their lives on the streets. The women also said they were ashamed to face their families.
It was extremely difficult for the two women to break away from the life of drugs and prostitution, but after the arrest of the brothers, the two said they dearly wanted to turn their lives around and come clean with their families.
One former victim, who was at court yesterday, is heavily pregnant as she had found a new love. She is expected to give birth next month.