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Hawks head Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya says SA has not been spared from the twin pandemics of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.

“Trafficking in persons is described as modern-day slavery and a crime against humanity,” he said.

He said during the reporting period for the third quarter of 2023/2024 , 19 potential victims of human trafficking were rescued.

Lebeya said three foreign nationals were convicted and four suspects were arrested. 

Sixteen awareness campaigns were conducted and 17 disruptive operations conducted.

Lebeya outlined the progress made in the third quarter, taking stock of milestones achieved since the previous quarter.

He detailed a case where human trafficking suspects were arrested with 14 children on December 6 2023.

The Hawks multidisciplinary team, Kimberley family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit, and Kimberley crime prevention arrested two Zimbabwean nationals on allegations of trafficking in persons.

The two accused, Tafadzwa Otis Nadakurwa and Beaula Maruza, were seen boarding a bus in Midrand with 14 undocumented children aged between six and 14 years. Eight were boys and six were girls.

He said police were alerted to the incident by a vigilant passenger in a bus from Midrand en route to Cape Town.

“The bus made a stopover in Kimberley. The passenger called an off-duty police officer, who alerted the multidisciplinary team for investigation and arrests. The suspects claimed to be taking the children to their parents in Cape Town. The victims were inspected and looked dirty without any additional clothes or bags, and looked hungry. The provincial trafficking in persons rapid response team led by the department of social development was contacted to assist with placing the children at a place of safety and providing food,” Lebeya said.

He said Nadakurwa was released on R5,000 bail and Maruza is in custody pending her bail application.

The children have been deported back to Zimbabwe and the case was postponed to April 15 2024.

Lebeya said SA is also targeted by unscrupulous people who illegally kill and traffic wildlife species for financial gain.

“SA is home to nearly 10% of the world’s plants and 7% of the world’s reptiles, birds and mammals,” he said.

Highlighting some cases, he said Zimbabweans were sentenced for dealing in protected plants.

In June 2022 police in Kuruman received information regarding three Zimbabwean men in possession of protected plants without the necessary permits.

Silence Chane, Blessing Chane, and Standford Hatidani were arrested in possession of an assortment of protected plants with an estimated value of R446,500.

Lebeya said the Chane brothers pleaded guilty on all counts and were sentenced after the docket was assigned to the Hawks for further investigation.

“Silence was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment or a R10,000 fine, while Blessing was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment or a R1,000 fine. They were also declared unfit to possess a firearm. Hatidani pleaded not guilty and chose to continue with his trial,” he said.

On November 9 2023, the Kuruman regional court found Hatidani guilty on all charges of contravention of the Northern Cape Nature Conservation Act and contravention of the Immigration Act and sentenced him to 10 years’ imprisonment. 


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