Mpumalanga police have launched an investigation into colleagues who are allegedly involved in prostitution, drug and human trafficking.
Provincial spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said they received information about their members in Witbank who could be linked to allegations of colluding with drug and human traffickers in the area.
This came after six women confronted the police with information following an incident where an alleged group of taxi operators in Witbank torched three homes believed to be brothels.
A business premises belonging to a Nigerian national was also set alight on Tuesday.
Hlathi said the incident was triggered by a woman who claimed she was from Gauteng, went to the Witbank police and reported that she was gang-raped and forced to use drugs allegedly by foreign nationals who later turned her into a prostitute.
The woman claimed she had been in Witbank for six days, after being lured there under false pretences of finding employment.
“While police were about to assist the woman with obtaining her statement, she then left and went to a nearby taxi rank where she told her story to taxi operators. The woman didn’t instigate the violent reaction by taxi operators, she was only explaining to them why she wanted a lift back home to Gauteng.
“Upon hearing what the woman claimed to have been through, a group of taxi operators then charged at three homes and a business premises and attacked them,” said Hlathi.
The woman, 39, withdrew her case on Wednesday.
Hlathi said while in Witbank on Wednesday, provincial police were confronted by six women who claimed they were also from various provinces.
“The women claimed that they have been in Witbank for a few months now. They told us that they were lured to Witbank under false pretences of finding employment. But, when they arrived in Witbank, they were allegedly gang-raped, fed drugs and later turned into prostitutes by foreign nationals.
“They also told us that there are some of our colleagues who are involved with the traffickers. They even alluded that there were other women from parts of the continent who were also treated the same,” said Hlathi.
“We have started with our investigations. The matter is highly operational and we need to collaborate with anyone with more information. We discourage vigilantism and people who take the law into their own hands.”
Police are currently investigating a public violence case.