Landmark sentence in human trafficking case

2014-11-22 22:09
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I survived human trafficking in Johannesburg

2014-11-13 12:08

Grizelda Grootboom was 18 years old when a trip to Johannesburg turned into a nightmare. Trafficked in Yeoville she was tied in a room for two weeks and forced to work as a sex slave. This is her story.WATCH

Cape Town - A wealthy White River businessman who held five under-age Mozambican girls captive as sex-slaves for three years, has been sentenced to eight life-terms for human trafficking and rape - believed to be the heaviest sentence ever handed down for human trafficking in South Africa.

Timber-trade entrepreneur Lloyd Mabuza, 62, and his co-accused, Violet Chauke, 24, were convicted on multiple counts of human trafficking.
 
Mabuza, who had been free while on R70 000 bail, was also found guilty on multiple counts of rape of the five girls, who were aged between 10 and 16.
 
The duo was convicted and sentenced by Magistrate Andre Lambrecht in the Graskop court on Friday.

Chauke, a Mozambican citizen, was found guilty of human-trafficking for sexual purposes, and handed over to Home Affairs officials for deportation back to Mozambique.
 
She received a sentence of 20 years, suspended for five years,
 
Both of the accused had previously pleaded not guilty to all charges.
 
Their landmark sentence marks the culmination of a two year-long trial that highlights the dark side of human trafficking of under-aged Mozambican nationals to South Africa for sexual exploitation.
 
The Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill was enacted in 2013, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, a R100m fine, or both.

Lambrecht noted he had taken into account Chauke herself had been a victim of human trafficking.
 
In his summary, Lambrecht said "the sentence sends out a strong message that trafficking, a new name for slavery, will no longer be tolerated by the courts in South Africa, or internationally".

Promises of a better life
 
Prosecutor Isabet Erwee told the court that the girls had been trafficked for sexual purposes from Mozambique to South Africa in 2009, and had been held captive on a remote Rhenosterhoek compound near Sabie.
 
The girls testified they have been lured to South Africa under false pretenses by Juliet Chauke, the older sister of Violet.
 
She had promised them the opportunity to have a better life and attend school in South Africa,
 
In her defence, Violet Chauke stated she herself was also brought to South Africa under false pretenses by Juliet, and that Mabuza had raped her when she was only 12.
 
"Sometimes he would pay Juliet directly, or he would give the money to the girls to give to her", she said.
 
The compound where the girls were held was described as a lumberjack village, located on a property owned by York Timbers.
 
"The village is in a very remote spot, with only one or two trout farms nearby. A stranger would find it difficult to get to it without help," Lambrecht said.
 
Meanwhile, Mabuza, who owned a large house nearby, would call Juliet or Violet to send him the girl he chose for the night.
 
Shocking testimony from the girls, [held in camera] gave vivid descriptions of Mabuza's bedroom and en-suite bathroom, where he had raped them.
 
They testified how after they had been raped by Mabuza for the first time, they had reported to Violet they were bleeding, but she had told them they would get used to it.
 
Should they not follow his instructions, Mabuza had threatened them with a firearm, they told the court.
 
They described how he had rubbed a cream or lotion on their private parts for lubrication, while one of the girls testified Mabuza had injected himself with a substance before he could get an erection.
 
When they had refused to go to Mabuza, Juliet had threatened them with abandonment and leaving them without food.
 
In his testimony, Mabuza, said he was sub-contracted to do work for York Timbers, and was not responsible for the compound where the girls were held captive.
 
The girls were eventually rescued in 2012, after the SAPS found the children locked up in a compound.
 
The wife of one of Mabuza’s employees had taken one of the girls into her home, sending her to school.
 
However, after the school’s principal and a social worker found out about the other girls at the compound, they alerted police.
 
Juliet Chauke managed to evade arrest, and fled to Mozambique,
 
The girls were found half-starved and unkempt, living in appalling conditions, according to a police report.
 
Justice

When the oldest girl first testified in court, she had cried constantly for her mother. Due to her emotional state, she was barely able to speak.
 
She only told the prosecutor after the other girls had testified, that she was also raped by Mabuza.
 
When asked why she had not spoken before, she told said she did not believe anyone would have helped her.
 
She told the court she could not trust anyone as those she had trusted, had abused her or had not helped her.
 
"Some of these children were threatened that if they did not obey, they would not have anywhere to go to" Lambrecht said.
 
He read that one of the girls was sent by her parents on holiday with Juliet to South Africa, on the promise she would return.
 
"But that never happened. When she asked Juliet why she could not go back home, she was told there was no money.
 
"Since none of the girls had passports, it was obvious they had all been smuggled through the border" he added.
 
Prosecutor Erwee said she was now worried what would happen to the girls as they had lost four years of their lives being slaves to Mabuza.
 
"Although one girl is turning 18 next year, they have lost all those years and need to catch up.
 
"I don’t want them returning to Mozambique without finishing their studies and thereby not landing up on the streets" Erwee said.
 
Johan Bosch, child protection expert and former operations manager of Child Welfare SA in the White River, Sabie and Graskop district, said: "Although the harsh sentence will never take away the trauma the girls went through, I am extremely happen that the justice system is taking a stance against the scourge of child trafficking in South Africa.

"Justice has prevailed" Bosch said.

 - MORE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING:

SA's dirty slavery secret

SA is hiding 100 000 slaves

WATCH:

I survived human trafficking in Johannesburg

Read more on:    mbombela  |  child abuse  |  human trafficking  |  crime

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