Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
SOUTH Africa’s specialised crime investigations unit, the Hawks, has arrested a 25-year-old South African for allegedly holding four Zimbabwean illegal immigrants hostage at Chebeng village in the Seshego area of Polokwane City.
Hawks spokesperson for Limpopo, Captain Matimba Maluleke identified the suspect who was arrested on Monday as Raymond Sithole.
The police spokesperson said Sithole illegally smuggled his victims aged between 15 and 20 years into the neighbouring country after promising them good jobs.
He said Sithole kept the four at his house and would force them to steal and do other jobs for no pay.
“The four victims were allegedly kept under lock and key after being smuggled into South Africa with false promises of good jobs and better lives here. In some cases the suspect would severely assault them if they failed to comply with his orders.
“The Limpopo Hawks unit got wind of the alleged exploitation and arrested the suspect,” he said.
Capt Maluleke said Sithole has been charged with human trafficking and corruption.
He said the suspect has since appeared before the Seshego magistrate court and was remanded in custody to January 9.
Hawks Limpopo’s provincial head, Major General Thobeka Jozi commended her team for reacting swiftly in apprehending Sithole.
“We warn those engaged in human trafficking that Limpopo will not be used as a gateway to exploit the innocent and vulnerable. This operation should serve as a serious warning that we will do everything to protect victims of human trafficking and we call upon our communities to work with us and report those in inhumane activities,” she said.
The latest incident comes a few weeks after three Zimbabwean cross-border transporters were jailed for 632 years by a South African High Court after they were convicted on 62 charges ranging from murder, robbery, extortion, rape among other violent crimes perpetrated in that country against Zimbabweans.