A 27-year-old South African woman and 8 other women have been rescued from a suspected sex trafficking syndicate in Malaysia.
The women were rescued in a joint operation conducted by Interpol, the Malaysian Police, the Hawks and the South African Ministry of Police.
South African Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, who disclosed this on Friday, said the woman was lured to Malaysia under the impression that she would take part in an internet modelling competition that attracted women from 14 countries “promising a great life with great prizes to be won”.
Mbalula said he received information about the South African on Wednesday night‚ and asked Interpol and the Hawks to investigate.
“The speed in intervention assisted South Africa to rescue females from 14 nations‚” said a statement from Mbalula’s office. “The South African victim is now safe and secured.”
“We are working to get our girl home. In the meantime she is safe and has been seen by our embassy representatives in Kuala Lumpur.” Mbalula said.
The minister said woman were trafficked to be used as sex slaves before their organs were harvested for illicit transplants.
“The issue of human trafficking is extremely serious and I want our young women in particular to know that they are the most vulnerable group to sex traffickers who later harvest human organs from them for trade in illicit organ transplant markets.”
“My greatest concern was the South African‚ and having the rest of these innocent young women rescued is fantastic — a good way to end the week”
“I expect to welcome our citizen back home by Tuesday next week. Unfortunately she has to spend her birthday on the flight but we are very happy she will soon be home soon”
Below is the statement released by South African Police Service on Saturday:
Nine alleged sex trafficking victims were rescued on Friday and one suspect arrested in a joint sting operation by the Hawks, South African Interpol and the Malaysian Police.
The women, one who is South African and the other eight from different parts of the world were allegedly trafficked to Malaysia last week Saturday after they responded to take part in a beauty pageant in Kuala Lumpur.
Upon arrival they were informed by their handler that the show has been cancelled and they were held hostage in a hotel room. The 27 year old victim managed to make a frantic phone call to her brother who then contacted Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Minister Mbalula referred the matter to the authorities and the Hawks immediately took a leading role in the case.
The hawks contacted Interpol who in turn contacted the Malaysian counterparts. The Malaysian police accompanied by their anti-human trafficking unit swooped into the hotel and fortunately managed to rescue the desperate ladies.
One of the victims was used to lure the accused back to the hotel in pretence that she was not feeling well and required immediate medical attention. The accused who is from Zimbabwe was arrested and is currently in custody in Malaysia. It is understood that the ladies were going to be smuggled to different parts of the world for sex trafficking.
All the victims were taken to a safe place and the South African embassy in Malaysia took her in to their care. Preparations have been made for the other girls to be flown home.
Meanwhile, Minister Mbalula has personally paid for the 27 year old South African’s flight home and she is expected to land at OR Tambo International Airport tomorrow evening.
The Acting Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata has congratulated Brigadier Scott Naidoo and his Interpol Team for their swift response in rescuing the victims.
“We can only imagine what could have happened to the ladies if they were not rescued in time. This case cements our enhanced partnerships and as a result of this operation, we hope to build a lasting framework that helps the world community to address this scourge.
“The role played by Brigadier Naidoo, one of the 11 members that represent the 190 Interpol members, is an excellent example of the effectiveness of his leadership in the Global Law Enforcement community to address and prioritise cases of human trafficking that target the most venerable of our communities. Interpol South Africa is a highly respected and recognised agency amongst the international law enforcement community.
“I would have failed in my duties if I do not reiterate my concern to our communities to be mindful of these flamboyant internet enticements. Human trafficking must be defeated and I would like to urge parents and the rest of our communities to be wary of friendly emphatic strangers who entice people with job and education opportunities. Everyone must take a leading role and take responsibility of the actions. Our children are our future we must protect them jealously and I would to urge all parents to take a leading role to protect them,” said Lieutenant General Matakata. #HumanTrafficking