By Kaya 959 News
A Gauteng teenage girl has been was rescued after her stepmother and step-grandmother allegedly planned to sell her to a human trafficking syndicate.
Hawks spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase, said the women allegedly promised to sell the 13-year-old for around R40 million.
“A multi-disciplinary driven operation was conducted by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption and Organised Crime Investigation teams in Vaal Rand, working with Vanderbijlpark SAPS Task Team for serious and violent crimes, and Family Violence and Sexual Offences Unit in the Vaal Rand,” he said.
The operation resulted in the arrests of two women, aged 36 and 57, for trafficking in persons, conspiracy to sell a minor for sexual exploitation, abduction, and theft of a child.
Nkwalase said the investigation team followed up on suspicious human trafficking activities planned in the Heidelberg area.
He said a waylay investigation was put in motion to nab the suspects. The joint police team seized R30 000 entrapment cash that was used during the operation. Electronic gadgets were also confiscated for further investigation.
The rescued minor was taken to a place of safety.
Police applauded for bravery
Hawks Gauteng head, Major General Ebrahim Kadwa, said what was “rather disturbing” with this situation is that family members were found to be involved in the alleged crime committed against their own.
“Setting up an operation of this magnitude shows bravery and we applaud the investigation team for executing it without anyone being harmed and the child was rescued safely,” he said.
Kadwa said in the past few months the team has made a major breakthrough in successfully dismantling illegal brothels in the Vaal Rand where police officers were arrested for human trafficking-related allegations.
The pair is expected to appear in the Heidelberg Magistrates Court on Thursday and investigations continue.
Calls for the public to be vigilant about human trafficking.
The Salvation Army has revealed that out of the dozens of calls to their offices every week, 80% are related to human trafficking.
The Salvation Army’s anti-human trafficking co-ordinator, Captain Juanita Wright, appealed to people to be much more vigilant about human trafficking.
“It is real and it is happening in our society to people of all ages. If an offer of employment sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” she said.
She said there are still far too many people in our communities who don’t really believe that human trafficking is happening, or that it can happen to them or their families.
“People most vulnerable to human trafficking are children, teenagers, young women, refugees, job seekers and people living on the street. These people are preyed upon in various ways and are literally tricked into going somewhere with their traffickers, and subsequently held against their will,” Wright said.
Information that is received from calls to The Salvation Army’s helpline is directed to one of its network partners for follow-up and investigation.
Wright said calls can also be directed to the national hotline number 0800 737 28.