More arrests in trafficking and prostitution ring
The net is closing in on an alleged Cape Town human trafficking‚ prostitution and extortion network as two more people were arrested this week.
Michael de Olivera handed himself over at the Table View Police Station on Tuesday night and his co-accused Norman Bridger was arrested on Wednesday during the Hawks’ “Operation Madame”.
Last week five people‚ including the suspected head of the syndicate which is thought to have groomed and trafficked “vulnerable” girls for sex work‚ appeared in the Western Cape Magistrates Court.
They were charged under the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act for among other things racketeering‚ human trafficking‚ extortion‚ car theft‚ housebreaking‚ robbery‚ fraud and money-laundering.
Bridger is also the husband of the suspected head of the syndicate‚ Shantel Bridger.
They are accused of filming their client’s sexual escapades with their employees. They then allegedly blackmailed their clients by threatening to post the content on social media.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said that the money from the extortion and prostitution operations were allegedly funnelled into De Olivera and Bridger's bank accounts.
Both men appeared in the Cape Town Magistrates Court on Wednesday on several charges including human trafficking and money laundering.
The case was postponed to August 18 when they will appear with the rest of the suspects.
Among the accused who will be appearing are Fareez Allie and Achmat Toffa - thought to be the “muscle” in the syndicate - who were accused of murdering Bruno Bronn‚ the owner of Bronx nightclub in Sea Point‚ but were acquitted in 2014.
The club’s bouncer‚ Willem Coetzer‚ was convicted‚ but maintained that Allie and Toffa orchestrated the murder. Now they are accused along with Shantel of keeping sex workers on a drug regime and using physical violence to “discipline” them.
At least two minors are thought to have been involved in the syndicate as sex workers. All the women allegedly trafficked are from the Western Cape.
Hawks spokesperson Llloyd Ramovha said the accused could have pocketed as much as R2.8-million through the extortion of clients between 2012 and 2015.