Cops search for 'underground sex slave'

2012-03-16 11:28
Welkom - A task team comprising experienced policemen and representatives of the Lesotho consulate has been created to help look for a young woman who is believed to have been abducted and taken underground to be a sex slave for illegal miners.

The woman is believed to have been forced underground naked as her clothes were found in the veld near an old mine outside Welkom.

Police spokesperson Captain Stephen Thankeng said a group of four women had gone to visit male friends in the early hours of the morning at the old Welkom mine.

The women were abducted by a group of Lesotho citizens who were working as illegal miners - the so-called zama-zamas - in Welkom.

Three of the women managed to escape but one of them, aged 28, was taken away in the dark by the men.

Her clothes - a pair of jeans, grey track suit jacket and underpants was found the day after her disappearance in the veld near the mine’s number one shaft.

Underground sex slaves

A team consisting of members of the mine’s Protea security, the Lesotho consulate, the Welkom diving team and the police’s department of visible policing was put together to investigate the abduction. It is led by Lieutenant Colonel Tokkie Jacobs.

Thankeng said the disappeared woman’s sister informed police about allegations that women were held underground as sex slaves.

He said it was the first time that this kind of information was reported to police and no stone would be left unturned to find the woman and rescue her.

The goldfields have been targeted over the years by zama-zamas who stay underground for months at a time to mine for gold.

They pay big money for food and liquor - as much as hundreds of rands for compressed bread. Police and security have in the past found completely kitted-out shops underground and several mine employees have been arrested for helping zama-zamas get underground and helping them survive.

Several mines have already prohibited workers from taking food and beverages underground as these often end up being sold to zamas for astronomical amounts.

Anyone with information that could assist police in the search for the woman, or with information about allegations of underground sex slaves, is asked to call Constable Samuel Seloana on  057 3916264 or 072 2276833.
Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  mining

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