Nineteen men were rescued after being held hostage by an alleged human trafficker in a house in Mondeor, south of Johannesburg, on Friday.
According to the South African Police Service, an operation by the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation received information of a supposed human trafficking syndicate that was allegedly keeping people hostage in the house.
After successfully tracing the suspected location, the team found 19 victims locked up in different rooms in the same house.
The SAPS said: “It is suspected that plans were already afoot to move them to a different location. An unknown man, understood to be the security guard, attempted to flee but was apprehended by the team members. The team also managed to seize a handgun and ammunition. The 19 victims, men who were found in separate rooms inside the house, have been taken to a place of safety for processing.”
A suspect is expected to appear before the Booysens Magistrates’ Court today facing charges of alleged human trafficking, possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
Investigations are still ongoing.
In another related incident, Onyekachi Eze Okechukwu was sentenced to two life sentences and an additional 39 years on eight counts for the illegal and intentional trafficking for sexual purposes of two female victims in Pretoria earlier this month.
Okechukwu was arrested by the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime investigating unit on May 13 in Pretoria where he ran a brothel and held the two victims captive. The two victims were rescued during the operation and taken to a place of safety where they received counselling and “life skills” sessions.
“The two victims were subjected to witnessing and experiencing physical and sexual violence, threats and encouragement of their addictions.
“Although the two victims did not wish to remain in the environment they were in, they were also exposed to the typical mechanisms used by their trafficker who continued to keep them in a web of trafficking that extended beyond physical control to psychological control.
“It was proven beyond doubt that Okechukwu played a significant role in the trafficking of both victims, he exploited their positions of vulnerability and physically and psychologically controlled them,” said the SAPS.
(Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde)