Free State – A Welkom businessman, who handed himself over to police after 11 victims were rescued from his farm and lodge last week, is due to appear at the Welkom Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday on charges of human trafficking.
The “king-pin” handed himself over to the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation (Hawks) on Tuesday after six suspects – Moalosi Boyaphi, John Mothebe, Mpele Agnencia, Tgakholi Celesting, Abram Sekoleli and Dineo Mofana – aged between 68 and 27, were arrested last week during a raid by authorities.
“The raids were carried out following information received from Interpol concerning a victim that was being kept against his will at the farm. On the scene, five victims were found and rescued, and an additional five were rescued from the lodge,” Free State Hawks spokesperson Captain S’fiso Nyakane said.
The group of 10 were rescued from the 50-year-old businessman’s farm in Khune village, and his lodge, which was allegedly operating as a brothel.
On Tuesday, a 28-year-old Lesotho national was also rescued from the farm.
Nyakane told News24 that the youngest victim was born in 1994, and the oldest was born in 1980, adding that there were three males and five females from Lesotho, and three females from Bloemfontein, Free State.
“They were recruited by two suspects from Lesotho who promised them work as receptionists, shop assistants, and, domestic workers,” Nyakane said.
The six suspects arrested last week had already appeared before the Welkom and Odendaalsrus Magistrate’s Courts last Friday, and their cases were postponed to January 19 and 22 for formal bail application.
An additional suspect, 27-year-old Lebona Phumela was arrested on Monday following further investigations. She appeared before the Odendaalsrus Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday on charges of human trafficking and her case was postponed to January 22.
Nyakane told News24 that he expected more charges to follow, adding that the cases would be centralised after the bail application of all the suspects.
More arrests cannot be ruled out as investigations continued, Nyakane added.