Cape Town – Police arrested an alleged pimp, Michael Okene Okeke, on allegations that the 48-year-old lured a 25-year-old woman to Cape Town from Gauteng under false pretences after the two were introduced by a friend at a party two months ago.
Upon arrival, the young woman was reportedly locked up at a house in Brooklyn, near Milnerton, where she was forced to take drugs and become a prostitute.
A month later, while on the streets, the young woman managed to alert a passing police vehicle of her circumstances before she was rescued and taken to a place of safety.
On Friday, Okeke made a brief appearance before Magistrate Sylvan Africa at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court where prosecutors indicated they had no bail profile on the accused.
The accused is due back in court on Friday.
While little is known about the victim, Brooklyn is known for prostitution along the main road, with many of the women said to have been trafficked to the area, hooked on drugs and forced to into the sex trade.
In March police arrested Lebogang Molapo, 33, and Andy Okafor, 34, after they allegedly recruited and transported a 35-year-old women from Joburg and locked her up at a house in Milnerton and attempted to force her into prostitution.
Days after she was assaulted and threatened for refusing to co-operate, she was kicked out of the house and she immediately reported the matter to police.
Human trafficking survivor-turned-activist Grizelda Grootboom said Brooklyn and Milnerton had become a haven of sorts for traffickers.
“The area has become like a second Hillbrow in how prevalent is has become for sex trade and where young girls are first brought to,” she said.
“Even when you do awareness in the areas and approach these girls to hand over pads or wipes, a car quickly comes by where a pimp threatens you to stay away from their ‘money juke-box’, so there is no telling whether that person is there against their own will or not.
“At times when we work around the airports and speak to these young women travelling with men, trying to ascertain whether they are there out of their own will, it is hard to come to an answer because at times they travel while high and we don’t have drug test kits.”
Grootboom said women who are working with traffickers to recruit other women for sex trade was a growing trend.
“It’s always the women desperate for work (who are) lured with promises and end up locked up in a flat in Brooklyn.
“Determining criminality is difficult unless people speak out, which is even harder sometimes for those kept habitually high. So we need to be very careful on the language we use around those in the sex trade when words like, ‘it’s their choice’ or ‘they want to do it’, are thrown around.”
According to the Salvation Army’s anti-human trafficking campaign, most sexual trafficking also includes some form of coercion such as kidnapping, threats, intimidation, assault, rape, drugging or other forms of violence.
The organisation’s website reports: “Over the last 10 years, the numbers of women and children (who) have been trafficked have multiplied so that they are now on par with estimates of the numbers of Africans who were enslaved in the 16th and 17th centuries.”