Human trafficking SAPS Hawks 2

Photo: SAPS

From Zambia to Lesotho: 11 victims rescued from SA human trafficking gang

The women, forced into prostitution by the SA-based human trafficking gang, were rescued during a Hawks raid on Sunday morning.

Human trafficking SAPS Hawks 2

Photo: SAPS

SAPS has shed more light on a huge human trafficking bust made on Sunday, after twin raids on properties being used as brothels led to the rescue of 11 victims. Five suspects, believed to be part of a criminal syndicate, were also arrested.

Victims ‘forced into prostitution’

Kuruman, in the Northern Cape, and Rustenburg, in North West, were the two main areas of focus for the operation. Two guest houses were identified as a hotbed of illegal activity, and it was ascertained that kidnapped women were being used as ‘sex slaves’ at both properties. SAPS revealed in a statement:

“The Hawks’ Northern Cape and North West Serious Organised Crime Investigation with the assistance of Crime Intelligence, K9, TRT, Crime Scene Investigation and Home Affairs raided three brothels in Kuruman and Rustenburg, ultimately arresting five suspects and rescuing eleven (11) victims of alleged human trafficking early Sunday morning.”

“Search warrants were served at two guesthouses namely Birdsong B&B and Noble Guest House at Kerk Street, Rustenburg, which were used as brothels.  The two premises have been closed. Another simultaneous operation also led to a closure of a house in Kuruman.”

SAPS statement

Human trafficking in South Africa

The victims, a majority of which are from South Africa, were initially lured to the towns with the promise of unemployment. However, none of them agreed to a life of prostitution in squalid conditions. The law is set to take its course this week when members of this human trafficking gang are hauled in front of the court. SAPS have officially concluded:

  • Seven victims, a Zambian, Zimbabwean, three from Lesotho and two South Africans were rescued in Rustenburg.
  • Additionally, four South African ladies were rescued in Kuruman.
  • An undisclosed amount of money was seized in all premises.
  • The arrests of the five suspects aged between 28 and 46 are part of a year-long proactive investigation into human trafficking for sexual exploitation in the two towns.
  • The women aged between 20 and 39 years were used as prostitutes on the premises after they were allegedly lured by the suspects with a promise of employment.
  • The five male suspects who are believed to be part of an alleged criminal group are expected to appear at Rustenburg and Kuruman Magistrate courts respectively on Monday.