Three Nigerians who keep sex slaves in South Africa have appeared in the Kuruman Magistrate’s Court, Northern Cape on charges of human trafficking.
This follows after members of the Hawks, Crime Intelligence, K9, Tactical Response Team, Crime Scene Investigation and Home Affairs raided guest houses that were used as brothels in Kuruman and Rustenburg and rescued 11 victims of human trafficking on Sunday morning. Five suspects were arrested.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, who confirmed the development on Tuesday, September 29, said that three of the suspects – Chikwuma Emmanuel Ibekwe, 37, Emmanuel Ikechkwu Okafor, 28 and Ifeanyi Michel Udechi, 30, appeared in the Kuruman Magistrate’s Court on Monday and were remanded in custody.
“The case was postponed until October 6.”
Mulaudzi stated that the two other suspects, who were arrested in Rustenburg, were expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
He said that the female victims who are between the ages of 20 and 39, were working as prostitutes at the guest houses after they were allegedly lured by the suspects with the promise of jobs.
Seven of the victims, a Zambian, a Zimbabwean, three women from Lesotho and two South Africans were rescued from Birdsong B&B and Noble Guest House in Kerk Street in Rustenburg. Four South African women were rescued from a house in Kuruman.
Mulaudzi said that all the premises have since been closed down.
The Hawks seized an undisclosed amount of money, receipt books and three vehicles, which were allegedly used in the commission of crime, from the guest houses.
Earlier, the Hawks rescued 10 women from an alleged human trafficking ring and arrested five people in early morning raids in Rustenburg and Kuruman.
Spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, who confirmed the development on Sunday, September 27, said the women are from Limpopo, Lesotho and Namibia and were trafficked to work in brothels in Rustenburg and Kuruman. The brothels were disguised as bed and breakfast accommodation.
“The women were trafficked from neighbouring countries and used as sex slaves. The brothels were disguised as BnBs and the women were made to pay rent while working there,” Mulaudzi explained.
According to Mulaudzi, the arrests were a culmination of an investigation which lasted more than a year.
“The investigation started in June 2019. Since then, we have been working on collecting intelligence,” he said.
The investigation identified six suspects. One of them died in 2019, but the remaining five were arrested during a swoop on three properties, which began at 06:00 on Sunday, Mulaudzi said.