Government has welcomed the Pretoria high court’s landmark ruling handed down to Ediozi Odi, who received six life sentences and an additional 129 years imprisonment for human trafficking and related charges. This after he kept three young girls hostage to work as sex slaves.
“This ruling shows that those found guilty of human trafficking and related crimes will be met with the harshest sentences possible,” government said in a statement.
Odi lured young girls into the sex trade, keeping them locked up in a property in Springs, Gauteng, and “paying” them with drugs.
TimesLIVE reported in 2017 that the brothel operated from a property that also offered a barber shop, tuck shop and gold and diamond exchange.
Residents and business owners in the street where the brothel operated were not shocked at the bust. “Every day you see two girls standing outside the place,” said one local. Others said the brothel was one of three on the busy street, which was also populated by law firms, mechanics, upholsterers, a day-care centre and an estate agency.
The Pretoria News reports that the court heard evidence behind closed doors from three young victims, about the ages of 13 and 14, who were locked up in the house for the duration of their stay. They were also forced into a dungeon under the floor of the property during police raids.
A 14-year-old teenager was only rescued after a year, while two other victims were able to escape after a week, said the Pretoria News.
Acting GCIS director-general Phumla Williams said: “Government remains committed to ensuring that all South Africans are and feel safe. Our country is at a place in time where the crimes against women and children are reaching alarming levels and government will not allow this atrocious behaviour to continue in South Africa. This scourge of abuse, violence, femicide, and human trafficking cannot go unchallenged and requires every citizen and organisation to play their role to create a safer place for all.”
Through various pieces of legislation and policies, such as the Human Trafficking Act, government said it is committed to ensuring the safety of children.
Government’s emergency plan, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in parliament this week, “will go a long way in addressing the national crisis of gender-based violence and femicide”, she said.
“Communities are advised to be vigilant about their surroundings and report any strange behaviour by people in their neighbourhood. We are appealing to citizens to refrain from causing harm to children. We can and must do more to protect the lives of children,” said Williams.
Members of the public can call Crime Stop on 0860 010 111 anonymously to report criminal activities.