Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Media blackout on sex-slave case
Race to save ‘brothel’ girls
April 25 2011 at 11:33am
By Graeme Hosken
Photo: Independent Newspapers
Police are racing against time to save more than 100 young girls in the country who have been spirited away by an alleged sex slave syndicate, as fears for their safety increases.
An apparent tip-off to members of an alleged sex slave syndicate run by Nigerians and South Africans resulted in police narrowly failing to rescue the girls when they raided a farm outside Paulpietersburg in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday.
It is believed that a brothel has been operating on the farm since 2006 and that it has been used as a holding point for young girls and women trafficked into South Africa from countries in SADC and Asia and then into Europe.
Police, along with agents from the National Intelligence Agency and other government security agencies, as well as the Home Affairs Department, swarmed through the farm on Friday.
As forensic experts from Pretoria seized potential evidence, organised crime unit detectives questioned suspects thought to be linked to the syndicate and searched for clues as to where the young girls had been taken.
KwaZulu-Natal provincial police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge confirmed that police had narrowly missed rescuing the girls believed to number more than 100.
“We were very close. We almost had them, but somehow those behind this were tipped off that we were coming for them and disappeared with these young children.
“Our big fear now is what has happened to these children. We have evidence of serious harm being caused to them and the longer they remain away from safety, the greater the danger they face,” Mdunge said.
He said the alleged syndicate, believed to be run by Nigerians and South Africans, was thought to be responsible for smuggling young girls from Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe into South Africa.
“Once across the border the girls are apparently brought to the farm, which we believe is being used not only to house them, but also as a brothel.
“Intelligence we have gathered indicates that the girls are then trafficked either to other destinations in South Africa or on to European countries such as Holland.
Mdunge said information indicated that the syndicate had been using the farm as a base for their operation since 2006 and that hundreds of young girls could have passed through the farm en route to their final destinations.
“This is a massive investigation into one of the most serious cases of human trafficking we have ever come across,” he said.
Declining to divulge how they had uncovered the suspected syndicate or what evidence they had seized from the raid because of the sensitivity of the investigation, Mdunge said information at their disposal indicated that the girls were being trafficked for sexual exploitation.
“Our information shows that these girls, who were moved shortly before we raided the farm, were ultimately to be used as sex slaves.
“We are following up on information that the children are being held somewhere in South Africa. The race is on to find them before they can be smuggled out of the country or before they can be hurt any further.
“We are working flat out with our SADC counterparts and Interpol to ensure that they are not smuggled across the border. The involvement of Interpol is to find out where these girls are from and what their final destination was to be.”
Mdunge said it was not known how long the girls had been kept on the farm, which had been sealed off by police.
He said the syndicate, which was highly sophisticated with operatives across the globe, was run by about 20 Nigerians and South Africans.
“Our investigation is multi-faceted. It is looking into where these girls are, how they were brought into South Africa, how long they were kept on the farm, other possible holding areas, who was involved, whether any corrupt State officials helped smuggle the children into South Africa, how they were trafficked out of the country and what countries they were being sent to.
“We are investigating various charges including kidnapping, sexual assault, smuggling and several other charges relating to human trafficking,” he said.
Home Affairs Department inspectorate head Modiri Matthews said the department’s roles in such operations was varied. “This includes looking at the victims of trafficking and how we can help them, such as repatriation to their home countries and providing whatever other assistance is needed, such as permits to stay in the country should a trial of their captors be under way,” he said. - Pretoria News
April 26 2011 at 10:32am
By Tania Broughton
Race to save ‘brothel’ girls
Police have placed a media black-out on any further information on reports that a sex-slave syndicate was holding about 100 young girls hostage at a farm outside Paulpietersburg, in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
“Any comment we make will jeopardise the investigation,” said Hawks spokesman Colonel McIntosh Polela.
A senior investigator, who cannot be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said it appeared a woman had approached police intelligence with information that 100 children, trafficked into South Africa from neighbouring countries and from Asia and Europe, were being held at the farm.
The woman claimed to have escaped the clutches of the syndicate. The source said little, if any evidence, had been found at the farm.
There were also suggestions that police might have raided the wrong farm on Friday and that they had subsequently lost touch with the woman.
The Mercury quoted provincial police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge as confirming that the police had “narrowly missed” rescuing the girls because someone had tipped off the syndicate.
He said the police had information that the farm was not only their home, but was also a brothel.
Mdunge said the case was one of the most serious involving human trafficking in South Africa and the police were working in conjunction with Interpol and SADC counterparts to ensure they were not being smuggled out of South Africa.
It is believed the police will now focus on other farms in the area. - The Mercury
Comments by Sonny
This safe house/brothel has been operational since 2006 and the SAPS Intelligence section has nothing on record.
Now, after someone escapes the clutches of the Nigerian/South African syndicate of children sex-slave traffickers, the SAPS wants a blackout on the media!
Should the media not be assisting in finding the location of these abused children?
We can imagine who is behind this scheme!
THIS WILL BE THE NEXT POLITICAL BOMBSHELL EXPLODING IN THE FACE OF THE 'HAWKS!'
How far can anyone hide with 100 plus captives?
What did Cwele and the NIA have on record?