Human trafficking trial nearing its end after final arguments

Brothers Edward and Yannick Ayuk during the court’s site visit.

Brothers Edward and Yannick Ayuk during the court’s site visit.

Published Jan 29, 2024


Cape Town - The largest human trafficking trial in the Western Cape is nearing an end after final argument was heard at the High Court Friday after nearly two years.

The trial commenced in November 2011 and saw two Cameroonian cousins, Edward and Yannick Ayuk slapped with over 40 charges, including rape, kidnapping, assault and various other offences, and for allegedly running a brothel in Milnerton.

According to the State’s case, they, along with Edward’s wife, Leandre Williams, lured women from Springbok and East London to Cape Town under false pretences and instead made them walk the streets to solicit clients.

Leandre Williams.

During the mammoth trial, several of the women were transported from their home towns to take the stand at the High Court.

After extensive testimonies by the women, police officers and other officials and advocate Bash Sibda, the defence lawyer for the cousins, successfully argued for the acquittal of Yannick on 27 charges, saying the State did not prove its case against him.

Judge Alma de Wet subsequently ruled that 27 charges be dropped against Yannick, while Edward was acquitted on four counts of rape.

In their defence, the cousins claimed that a “dirty cop”, who allegedly operated as a pimp in the area, conspired with other officers to have them arrested. This was rejected by the State.

During argument Friday. the State and defence teams went head to head with their final arguments ahead of judgment.

Sibda claimed the State had “hopelessly failed” to prove the human trafficking charges, saying none of the victims were held captive, nor had they been trafficked. He also said the

State had not followed procedures in terms of the Human Trafficking Act by completing a certificate.

State prosecutor Maria Marshall, rejected this, saying the legislation defined human trafficking, and not what the public perceived it to be as portrayed in movies.

She said the State was not required to provide a certificate under the Act and that the documentation referred to was instead a “letter of reference” and was required when the State had to decide whether or not to prosecute a victim of human trafficking who, as a result, committed a crime.

The matter was postponed to February 14, when the judge will give a date when she will deliver judgment.

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