Felix Christopher Eghan (32) appeared in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday, February 22 on charges of human trafficking and possession of counterfeit goods.

According to the South African Police Force’s Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu, it is alleged that in November 2020, a 34-year-old woman was lured from Cape Town to Johannesburg with promises of lucrative job opportunities.

“The investigation revealed that the victim was held captive against her will at different lodges within the Johannesburg area since her arrival. She was rescued during a disruptive operation conducted by Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation in Johannesburg, Randburg and Douglasdale police, last week Friday, February 19, 2021,” said Mulamu.

Police seized electronic gadgets for further investigation. Counterfeit goods consisting of luxurious timepieces, clothes, and perfumes worth approximately R100 000 were also confiscated.

Eghan was remanded in custody pending further investigation. The case is postponed to Monday, March 1. Investigation continues and outstanding suspects are being sought.

Human trafficking continues to be a problem in South Africa and Cape Town specifically. In November 2020, Camilla de Waal Rossouw (32) was handed a 10-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to 11 charges pertaining to a human trafficking syndicate in Cape Town.

Rossouw is the tenth person to be sentenced from the syndicate, who ran brothels in Bellville, Big Bay, Milnerton and Table View. The group’s modus operandi included recruiting young females, including minors, to work in brothels by grooming them before sexually exploiting them. They were also forced to partake in criminal activities, including shoplifting, extortion, and housebreaking.

It’s estimated that nearly 40-million people around the world are trapped in some form of human trafficking. Trafficking comes in different forms, including labour exploitation/slave labour, prostitution, sexual slavery, and forced marriage.

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues, the resulting economic instability and social disruption have consequently caused many individuals to be more vulnerable to violence, abuse, and human trafficking.

In fact, according to global anti-human trafficking organisation A21, during April 2020, when most communities were in lockdown, the SA National Human Trafficking Hotline saw a 47.8% increase in crisis trafficking situations reported compared to April 2019.  Additionally, in September 2020, 30% of the calls coming into the hotline were related to vetting job opportunities, which was a 1000% increase.

If you are approached with an attractive job opportunity that seems too good to be true, make sure to do your research before agreeing to meet with anyone. Some red flags include if the job requires no qualifications, offers free housing and transport.

Always call the employer on a landline to confirm they are a legitimate company, and be wary of those only contacting you via WhatsApp or free web-based email addresses.

You can also call the South African Chamber of Commerce to make sure the recruiting company is a registered, legitimate company.

If you believe you’ve witnessed something that might be human trafficking, or if you or someone you know might need help for an at-risk situation, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 0800 222 777 or visit A21s website at a21.org for more information.

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