Tip-off leads to arrest of woman suspected of human trafficking

A 41-year-old woman was arrested on Friday morning in connection with two charges of human trafficking in Klerksdorp, in North West. More charges are expected to be added as the police investigation continue.

Esther Mwanza – who was arrested by a team from the Directorate of Priority Crime and Investigation (DPCI), commonly known as the Hawks, following an anonymous tip – made a brief appearance at the Klerksdorp Magistrate’s Court on Friday following her arrest.

According to North West police spokesperson Captain Tlangelani Rikhotso, the Hawks swooped in on Mwanza’s home in Klerksdorp on January 20 after being tipped of suspicious criminal activity.

“The information was provided by the Human Trafficking Hotline to the DPCI,” said Rikhotso. She said two women were found in Mwanza’s home.

“Two females aged 20 and 31 were found at the accused’s home. They alleged to have been trafficked from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to South Africa, where they allegedly endured labour exploitation,” said Rikhotso.

“The victims were interviewed and subsequently taken to a place of safety which was provided by the Department of Social Development,” she said.

Rikhotso said the women are still in a place of safety in South Africa while investigations are still underway to establish the circumstances surrounding their alleged trafficking.

She said the police have so far managed to confirm the identity of the women and their countries of origin.

Mwanza’s case has been postponed to June 9 for a formal bail application.

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