S. African police bust slave trade syndicate
Cape Town, Jan. 17, 2018 (AltAfrika) -South African police said they had busted a slave trade syndicate in a surprise raid on Wednesday.
The Hawks, formally known as the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, launched raid on homes, lodges, farms and taverns in Welkom, Free State Province, rescuing a number of victims that had been trafficked from across the country and from other Southern African countries, police said.
The raid was carried out following information concerning a victim who was being kept against his will on a farm in Welkom, police spokesperson S’fiso Nyakane said.
Seven suspects have been arrested, including the suspected mastermind, a prominent businessman known as the “General,” who has been arrested before on multiple charges, including kidnapping.
Further investigations will continue and more arrests can not be ruled out, Nyakane said.
South African police said they have been investigating the alleged operations of the syndicate for years.
“It’s almost impossible to break these kinds of cases. The victims almost never want to talk,” said Nyakane.
According to Nyakane, most victims were told they would work as cleaners and receptionists, but were instead pushed into prostitution.
“We believe that there are many farms that are being used to not only house these women, but also as brothels which people, many of them farmers and other rich and well-to-do people, come to visit,” Nyakane said.
South Africa has faced a serious human trafficking problem, with 100,000 people reportedly being trafficked in the country annually, according to the latest LexisNexis Human Trafficking Awareness Index.
The index showed that the main driving factors for human trafficking in South Africa are sexual exploitation, forced labour, drugs and an alarming new trend of parents selling their children for adoptions or sex.