Linden Police Station and its Victims Support Unit want to send an urgent warning to dance studios to be aware of potential human traffickers.
This comes after they had to counsel a young woman who was being groomed to be taken by an alleged trafficker, reports Randburg Sun.
The suspect, described as well dressed and well spoken, befriended the young victim who is a dance instructor.
Armed with research and a fake identity, the suspect pretended to own a dance studio and was involved in the dancing world to gain the victim’s trust.
According to Lorraine Louw from the Victims Support Unit, the suspect pretended to know the victim and her boss to gain their trust.
“The suspect then told them he had been mugged and was nervous to drive, so he asked the victim and her partner for a lift,” said Louw.
“In the vehicle, he made plenty of promises which included offering the victim an opportunity to dance for R16 000 at a show in Sun City and also said he owned a dance studio. That same night, he offered the victim and her partner to take them to dinner where they spoke further. The victim let her family know that she would be out late.”
But, after dinner, the suspect could not find his wallet and the victim’s partner had to pay for the meal.
The suspect also wanted to take them to an event where he claimed he was the MC from midnight to 4am but they declined his offer.
They then took the suspect to a hotel where he claimed to be staying before they went home.
The following morning, the suspect invited the victim to breakfast but she refused. Later that day, the suspect and victim met up at his alleged dance studio where he claimed that the BBC was interested in interviewing her about dancing and they discussed what was needed for the interview.
The suspect wanted to use a shuttle to fetch the victim, not Uber or Taxify which can be traced, and this set off the victim’s alarm bells.
“When the victim checked the address of where the BBC meeting was to take place, they found that it was a deserted place,” said Louw.
“They then tried all the numbers he had dialled on her phone and found that they did not exist so it is clear he was calling burner phones.
They also found that the suspect does not own a dance studio at all.
“We then checked his name on social media platforms and saw that his name did not match the picture of who he said he was. We also contacted a human trafficking organisation and they confirmed to us that the suspect may be involved in human trafficking.”
The Linden police’s Victims Support Unit want to warn dancers and dance studios in the community to be extra vigilant as traffickers may be targeting this specific group.
The suspected trafficker is currently at large and may use different aliases to earn the trust of potential victims.
“Parents should always be aware of who their children are talking to and who they are with at all times. This is to prevent incidents such as this from occurring. We were lucky this time because the victim was wary of the suspect but this is not always the case,” said Constable Takalani Matumba from the Linden police.
For assistance, contact Linden police on 011 888 9299.