Diamond Fields Advertiser - - News - SANDI KWON HOO CHIEF RE­PORTER

THE WOMAN who was ar­rested on charges of hu­man traf­fick­ing for sex­ual ex­ploita­tion was de­nied bail in the Kim­ber­ley Mag­is­trate’s Court on Fri­day.

Con­cern had been raised that young women were be­ing sex traf­ficked on Sa­maria Road and that some were un­der­age.

Wit­nesses re­ported that young women be­tween the ages of 17 and 22 were be­ing kept in a shack be­long­ing to the ac­cused - Es­ter Palesa Moshoeshoe, 27.

Two 17-year-old girls were res­cued from a tav­ern, where they were be­ing ac­com­pa­nied by the ac­cused.

Ac­cord­ing to the Hawks, Moshoeshoe had ques­tioned the po­lice about where they were tak­ing the girls and they in­formed her that they were un­der­age and should not be fre­quent­ing a tav­ern.

One of th­ese girls is a fam­ily mem­ber of Moshoeshoe and was re­sid­ing with her.

She re­port­edly broke down and cried when she re­called that she had been raped “sev­eral times” and was too trau­ma­tised to pro­vide a state­ment dur­ing an in­ter­view with the Hawks.

The Hawks ar­rested Moshoeshoe on De­cem­ber 17 af­ter res­cu­ing an­other 22-year-old woman on Sa­maria Road.

The Hawks are still search­ing for two more ap­par­ent vic­tims.

De­liv­er­ing judg­ment on the bail ap­pli­ca­tion, mag­is­trate Ce­leste Nameka be­lieved that Moshoeshoe was a flight risk and could at­tempt to evade her trial as she did not have a fixed ad­dress, nor did she have an iden­tity doc­u­ment or a pass­port.

“While she main­tained that she was born and bred in Kim­ber­ley, her mother in­di­cated that she was born in Le­sotho and came to South African when she was three months old. The in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer stated that the ac­cused could en­ter Le­sotho, in the same way that her mother en­tered South Africa, with­out an iden­tity doc­u­ment,” said Nameka.

She noted that the State had yet to test Moshoeshoe’s le­gal sta­tus with the De­part­ment of Home Affairs, as she did not pos­sess any par­tic­u­lars re­lat­ing to her cit­i­zen­ship.

Nameka added that Moshoeshoe’s mother had in­di­cated that her daugh­ter had aban­doned her chil­dren, where she had left them with her boyfriend in Snake Park and had gone to live in the Sa­maria Road area.

“Even if she was re­leased on bail, the ac­cused would not be given cus­tody of her three chil­dren – aged nine, five and two years old – as she was charged with ne­glect­ing her chil­dren.”

She pointed out that Moshoeshoe could in­ter­fere with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, as she knew her al­leged vic­tims, while there was a like­li­hood that she might also de­stroy ev­i­dence.

“The ac­cused stated that one of the wit­nesses stays in the back street, while one was re­sid­ing with her. There are also vic­tims that need to be res­cued.”

Nameka be­lieved that Moshoeshoe was dis­hon­est to the court re­gard­ing her chil­dren.

“She said that they were liv­ing with her, al­though two of her chil­dren were vis­it­ing in Wind­sor­ton. She ad­vised the court that her nine-year-old dis­abled child was liv­ing with her mother since her in­car­cer­a­tion. This is while, ac­cord­ing to the State, her chil­dren were placed in the care of her mother and her boyfriend’s par­ents af­ter they were taken out of her cus­tody.

“The ac­cused in­di­cated that she was tak­ing care of the vic­tims in her home, as she ‘had a good heart’, while she was not able to take care of her own chil­dren.”

Nameka went on to say that the clients who had paid for the sex­ual ser­vices of­fered by the girls did not wish to be ex­posed, while their iden­ti­ties were known to the vic­tims.

“The vic­tims slept with th­ese men, against their will.”

She added that the in­ter­ests of the chil­dren and com­mu­nity out­weighed those of the ac­cused.

“The ac­cused was re­leased on bail of R500 for child ne­glect and is now fac­ing an­other charge in­volv­ing chil­dren.”

Nameka stated that ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics South Africa, at the end of 2019, 55 per­cent of women in South Africa fell prey to hu­man traf­fick­ing while 43 per­cent of th­ese women were vic­tims of sex­ual ex­ploita­tion.

“Ninety-eight per­cent of th­ese vic­tims con­sti­tute women and chil­dren. Hu­man traf­fick­ing could be re­lated to poverty, a lack of ed­u­ca­tion and a lack of job op­por­tu­ni­ties. South Africa has been noted as an ac­tive hub for hu­man traf­fick­ing as a re­sult of gen­der in­sta­bil­ity and po­lit­i­cal con­flict.”

Moshoeshoe will ap­pear in court via live tele­vi­sion stream­ing on Jan­uary 30 af­ter the mat­ter was post­poned for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

She will re­main in cus­tody.

NO BAIL: Danie van der Lith

Es­ter Palesa Moshoeshoe, who was ar­rested on charges of hu­man traf­fick­ing for sex­ual ex­ploita­tion on Sa­maria Road, was de­nied bail in the Kim­ber­ley Mag­is­trate’s Court on Fri­day. Pic­ture:

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