Second suspect arrested in Limpopo human trafficking case

2015-05-14 19:05

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Polokwane - A second suspect was arrested in the Mankweng Magistrate’s Court on Thursday in connection with the human trafficking of 19 Ethiopians.

The second suspect, believed to be the brother of Teketel Shifarao who was arrested at his tuckshop were victims were kept, was arrested in the court gallery.

Shifarao was arrested last week on Tuesday after police rescued 19 illegal immigrants hidden behind his shop’s shelves.

He was due to make a second appearance in court when police pounced on his brother.

The investigating officer walked into the court gallery, asked the man his name and asked the brother to follow him.

The officer then told the man that he was under arrest and ordered him to proceed to the holding cell.

The two are accused of violating Emigration Law after they allegedly smuggled the Ethiopians into the country and hid them in a tuckshop storeroom in the Mentz village east of Polokwane.

Later on Thursday the two appeared in the court.

The matter was postponed to May 19 for a formal bail application.

Police investigations revealed that the Ethiopians were beaten, denied food and kept in isolation during the two months they were kept in the country.

Charges dropped

Meanwhile, charges against nineteen victims were dropped on the basis that they help the State's case against Shifarao and his brother.

They appeared briefly and were informed that charges against them has been struck from the roll.

They were facing charges of being in the country illegally and faced deportation.

The State said the victims would be taken to separates places of safety and could not be released until investigations were complete.

The state also needed to ensure the homeless victims remained in the country until they testified in court.

The victims' lawyer Sello Sethosa told the court that it was mandatory for the State to keep them safe because they were state witnesses whose evidence was crucial in the case against Shifarao.

According to the State, consultations are yet to begin with the Ethiopian embassy to determine their status.

The process is expected to be completed before end of August.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  ethiopia  |  human trafficking  |  crime

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