POLICE have arrested three sets of Chinese nationals and a Zimbabwean man over the past month in connection with human trafficking or sex crimes.
In four separate cases across the country, 31 people were rescued from what police believe are human trafficking syndicates.
In the first incident, a Chinese woman was arrested on July 13 at a house in Goodwood, Cape Town, after being accused of trafficking and running a brothel with a Chinese woman.
It is the second time the woman was arrested this year. She is on trial for 13 similar charges at a different Cape Town court.
Then, on August 10, police arrested a man from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, for allegedly smuggling 21 children into South Africa through an illegal crossing point along the Limpopo River. He was taking the children, aged between one and 16, from Bulawayo to Johannesburg, claiming to have been hired by their parents to bring them to the city.
He was caught loading the children into a car in a bushy area between the South African side of the border and Musina.
Three days later, four men were arrested at a block of flats in Edenvale, near Johannesburg, and charged with kidnapping.
According to Edenvale police spokesman, Warrant Officer Jean Olckers, seven men and three women were “rescued” after police officers raided the house.
On August 14, the police arrested two brothel managers and 10 Chinese women believed to be sex workers at a brothel in Bedfordview.
The alleged manager of the brothel faces charges of running a brothel and bribery after allegedly offering Ekurhuleni metro police officers a R100 000 bribe.
The manageress faces charges of running a brothel and possession of an illicit substance. The 10 Chinese women face charges of prostitution.
Yesterday, at the Bedfordview establishment, in the cul-de-sac of Plantation Street, the house was quiet.
Neighbours said that running up to the arrest, the house was busy every day, all day.
“Cars would come one by one all the time. It was the fancy cars, BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes. Sometimes they would drop off the girls, sometimes the girls would come in with the men in the cars,” said a neighbour, who did not want to be named.
“We often asked the security guards what type of business was being run here, but they would never say anything.”
Another neighbour said they were delighted with the arrest as they had been complaining for a long time about the activities.
A man called Alex, claiming to be a security guard at the house, yesterday said that “his boss” and two women arrested were still in prison and that the other women had been released but were not at the house. “They came to get their stuff and I’ve heard they are in Bruma now,” he said.
Meanwhile, the caretaker of the Edenvale flats, who did not want to be named, said there was no suspicious activity at the house where the 10 people were rescued.
Their three-bedroom flat had double beds in each room. In the garage, which led directly into the house, there were two more double beds.
“There were smart flat-screen TVs, a laptop and many modems all over the house, but no other furniture. There were no pictures on the walls or couches. It did not look like it was being used. It definitely was not a home,” he said.
He said two women and four men had moved in in February.
Commenting on the cases, Chandré Gould, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said:
“Foreign sex work is not necessarily human trafficking. Human trafficking must involve luring people under false pretence on the promise of money and exploiting the people.”