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The suspects arrested on New Year’s Eve in Sunnyside for alleged human trafficking appeared in Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning. One of the five suspects allegedly lured a 17-year-old girl from her home in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria in March last year. The victim was kept against her will, forced to take drugs and subjected to sexual exploitation. She was rescued by the hawks along with a 25- year-old woman from a flat in Sunnyside.

Four male Nigerian nationals and a South African man face charges of contravening the Trafficking in Persons Act for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The arrests in Sunnyside were a result of a joint operation by the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation and the Tshwane K9 unit. The suspects, are aged between 19 and 40. It emerged that two of the suspects are fugitives who had been on the run since September 2019. They were allegedly linked to another case of human trafficking where nine suspects were arrested and their case is now at the Pretoria High Court.

Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Philani Nkwalase said the joint team responded to information received from the human trafficking hotline about a 17-year-old minor victim who reportedly left home in March last year. She was allegedly recruited from Hammanskraal by one of the suspects, kept against her will, forced into a life of drugs and subjected to acts of sexual exploitation.

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