Police are cracking down on a human trafficking ring operating in the Cape Town suburb of Brooklyn, and have arrested another suspect, who is 48 years old. It is alleged that Michael Okene Okeke lured a 26-year-old woman to Cape Town from Springbok with the promise of a job in a restaurant. He used another woman to bait her into moving to the city.

On arrival, the unsuspecting woman found herself as a prisoner in a seedy Brooklyn house, where she was allegedly made dependent on drugs and forced into prostitution. When the City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement initially inspected the house in Frank Robb Street in May 2018, they discovered the 26-year-old and seven other young women being held there against their will. Since then, several arrests have been made and authorities have only recently understood the massive scale of the human trafficking ring operating under their noses. 
Okeke made a brief appearance at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court last Friday, and was released on bail. He will reappear in court on Friday, August 23.

In September 2018, the Hawks arrested a number of individuals suspected of being involved in the operation, including Vincent Ndidi Onyejekwa (39), Uche Henry Ezenwa (35), Leandre Meryl Williams Ayuk (35), and her husband Edward Ayuk.

Onyejekwa and Ezenwa appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, while the Ayuks’ appeared in court in Springbok. All the accused appeared in the respective courts in September 2018.

Statistics South Africa said in its 2016/2017 Victims of Crime report that the recruitment of victims is an important part of the trafficking process. “According to the respondents to the survey recruitment can happen in different ways, but it mainly involves deception,” the report reads.

A21, a human trafficking advocacy initiative, backs up this finding and breaks down the luring methods used in human trafficking:

– False job opportunities – 42.5%
– Tricked by friend – 4.3%
– Tricked by lover – 9.6%
– Abduction – 4.4%
– Sold by family – 10.7%
– False immigration – 2.4%
– Other – 4.6%
– Unknown – 21.4%

In a separate case, police arrested two people for the alleged recruitment and transportation of a 35-year-old woman from Johannesburg to Cape Town in March 2019. The woman was allegedly locked up in a Milnerton house, and the modus operandi was similar to the Brooklyn human trafficking ring – she was forced into prostitution. She reportedly escaped a few days after being assaulted and threatened in the house, and immediately reported the matter to police.

“Over the last 10 years, the numbers of women and children (who) have been trafficked have multiplied so that they are now on par with estimates of the numbers of Africans who were enslaved in the 16th and 17th centuries,” the Salvation Army’s anti-human trafficking campaign reads on their official site.

Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.