Court told girl had to have abortion after being tracked down in informal settlement
Devastating details of how a mentally disabled child had to have her pregnancy terminated after she was rescued from a human trafficking ring operating in Port Elizabeth emerged in a court for the first time yesterday.
Captain Brenda Magwanqana, the commander of the Port Elizabeth Human Trafficking Task Unit, said several children had been rescued in July 2012 in a raid on a house at an informal settlement near the Fairview racecourse, where the girls were allegedly held in dire conditions.
Nombuyiselo Matini, 50, who allegedly ran the brothel and made money off prostitution, was arrested with Nolubabalo Mboya, 25, who allegedly helped her procure mentally disabled children.
Matini, who is still in custody after being denied bail, is charged separately for the procurement, trafficking and sexual exploitation of several more adults and children, with the youngest aged 16.
The women pleaded not guilty in the Uitenhage Regional Court to charges which include racketeering. If convicted, they could face life in prison.
Matini, of KwaNobuhle, and Mboya, of Khayalitsha, were arrested after two of the girls, both from KwaNobuhle, were reported missing by their parents in July 2012.
The girls were pupils at a special needs school in the area at the time.
It is alleged the women tricked the girls with job offers.
They were then allegedly kept sedated and locked in a room at the brothel for several months while being sexually exploited.
A search by the police, and several newspaper reports, eventually led to the girls being found at the Hlathini informal settlement where they were being held.
Questioned by state advocate Zelda Swanepoel yesterday, Magwanqana said the girls had been taken to a safe house, where it was later discovered that one of them was pregnant.
“The social worker informed us that they had to terminate the pregnancy,” she said.
Magwanqana said another girl, who was also mentally disabled, had died in December after her health deteriorated.
According to the state, the brothel was in operation between April 2006 and July 2012, and was used as the central operation point for the unlawful activities of the accused.
At least five of the young victims were allegedly forced to operate as prostitutes during that period.
Matini allegedly received cash or gifts, sometimes even food items, as payment for the sex acts.
“The victims were detained under threat, force, coercion or deception,” the prosecution said.
The victims’ testimony was heard in camera.
The trial was postponed to March 22.