File picture: IOL.

Johannesburg - Police officers rescued three teenage girls and arrested five Ethiopian nationals for kidnapping, human-trafficking and extortion around Brixton and Mayfair area on Thursday afternoon. 

Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said the five suspects were apprehended after they reportedly kidnapped three Ethiopian teenagers over the weekend.. 

“The teenagers were allegedly smuggled into the country and kept in Gauteng,” he said.   

He said the suspects reportedly contacted the victims’ parents who are based in North West and demanded a R50 000 ransom per child for their safe release.  

“The Hawks team traced and arrested the five suspects who are also Ethiopian nationals on Thursday afternoon. The group is expected to be charged for human-trafficking, kidnapping and extortion, whilst additional charges have not been ruled out pending their court appearance,” he added. 

Ramovha further said the teenagers had been taken to a place of safety as investigations continue.  

In August, two Indian nationals, Atif Ali, 27 and Subuj Miah, 30, appeared before the Nelspruit Magistrates Court on charges of human trafficking after they reportedly recruited and trafficked four Bangladeshi men into the country. 

The two suspects flew with the victims from Bangladesh via Dakar to Maputo, Mozambique, where they then forced them to walk from the airport to Komatipoort. 

When they reached Komatipoort, the victims were then transported to Belview Estate, Nelspruit, where they were held captive.

It is believed that the Bangladeshi men only realised they had been trafficked when Ali and Miah phoned their relatives in Bangladesh and demanded ransom money for their release.

The Star