Call to Bloem saves nine women from sex slavery
Nine women were saved from a life of sex slavery after one of them made a desperate phone call to Bloemfontein from a Malaysia hotel room.
The women were lured to Kuala Lumpur by an internet advert for a beauty pageant‚ Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said on Saturday.
“Upon arrival they were informed by their handler that the show has been cancelled and they were held hostage in a hotel room‚” he said.
The South African among them‚ a 27-year-old‚ “managed to make a frantic phone call to her brother who then contacted (police) minister Fikile Mbalula”.
Mbalula alerted the Hawks‚ who called in Brigadier Scott Naidoo‚ the head of Interpol in South Africa. He contacted Malaysian authorities.
Said Mulaudzi: “The Malaysian police‚ accompanied by their anti-human trafficking unit‚ swooped into the hotel and fortunately managed to rescue the desperate ladies. It is understood that (they) were going to be smuggled to different parts of the world for sex trafficking.”
One of the women‚ a Zimbabwean‚ is suspected of being part of the trafficking syndicate and was arrested.
Hawks acting head Lieutenant-General Yolisa Matakata congratulated Naidoo for his team’s swift response. “We can only imagine what could have happened to the ladies if they were not rescued in time‚” he said.
“This case cements our enhanced partnerships‚ and as a result of this operation we hope to build a lasting framework that helps the world community to address this scourge.”
Mulaudzi said Mbalula had personally paid for the South African woman’s flight home‚ and she was expected to land in Johannesburg on Sunday.