Durban – Police believe they may have uncovered a human trafficking ring operating from Phoenix in Durban after they arrested a 37-year-old man who allegedly exploited teenagers by selling them as sex slaves.
Details of the crimes, which allegedly also include forcefully taking semi-naked pictures of young girls, emerged after one of them charged the man with rape.
However, when police arrested him earlier this month, he appeared in court on a charge of human trafficking.
According to Phoenix police spokesperson Captain Louise Naidoo, it was the suspect’s ex-wife who reported to police that he used their 17-year-old daughter to lure her young friends to their house, informing their parents they were going away on holiday.
The man is now out on bail and is expected back in court on December 12.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker confirmed that the Phoenix Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit was investigating a case of human trafficking.
Naicker said the man was arrested on November 6 and appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on November 11.
The Phoenix community policing forum (CPF) is now making a plea that anyone with further information on the allegations or who may have fallen victim to the crimes come forward.
According to Naidoo, the victims were forced to take semi-naked pictures which were posted on escort sites.
“One victim, a 17-year-old, was forced to have sexual intercourse with several men for monetary gain which the suspect took. This occurred in a chalet on the North Coast,” Naidoo said.
Another incident allegedly occurred in the Durban North area where the same victim was forced to have sexual intercourse with several other men for monetary gain and again the money was taken by the suspect.
Naidoo said the suspect was arrested by Lieutenant-Colonel Faizel Rajak and his team after gathering information about the illegal activities.
Phoenix CPF chairperson Umesh Singh said details surrounding the allegations were limited at this point.
“What I can reveal for now is that the rape incidents seem to have happened outside of the Phoenix area. The girls, however, are from Phoenix. This is definitely bigger than what we know right now and we are expecting more to unfold soon.”
Singh said the community was horrified and shocked at the incident, adding that it was “devastating” to know that such incidents were occurring in their neighbourhood.
He urged parents and youngsters to be extra vigilant, “especially with school holidays coming up”.
“I urge parents to constantly communicate with their children in a caring and loving manner so you can protect and prevent them from becoming a sad statistic.
“Children should always let their parents know where they are.”
Some community members took to social media, calling for parents to be on alert for sexual predators preying on unsuspecting victims.
“The number of sick people in our community parents, you cannot trust anyone. Be more active in your child’s social circles. Times have changed,” posted Ash Hayden.
Carol van Tonder described the incident as “shocking”.
“And who are these men who were having sexual intercourse with these girls, you should be ashamed of yourselves! Is called rape hope they also caught! (sic),” she wrote.
Janice Ramsamy wrote: “This is why we need the death penalty back when did we lose all sense of humanity? Makes me sick.”
“Name and shame these monsters. The community as well as our kids should be made aware of these animals,” wrote Shamine Francis.