The Hawks have rescued 11 suspected human trafficking victims lured into sex work with promises of employment.
The women were found during raids on two suspected brothels in Rustenburg in North West and a house in Kuruman in the Northern Cape on Sunday morning, said Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi.
Five suspects were arrested.
“Search warrants were served at two guesthouses in Kerk Street, Rustenburg, which were used as brothels. The two premises have been closed. A simultaneous operation also led to the closure of a house in Kuruman,” Mulaudzi said.
Two of the women rescued in Rustenburg were South African, one was Zambian, one Zimbabwean and three were from Lesotho.
The women rescued in Kuruman were all South African.
“The arrest of the five suspects, aged between 28 and 46, is part of a year-long proactive investigation into human trafficking for sexual exploitation in the two towns,” Mulaudzi said.
The Hawks were tipped off by community members about activities on the three premises.
“The women, aged between 20 and 39 years, were used as sex workers on the premises after they were allegedly lured by the suspects with promises of employment,” said Mulaudzi.
During the raids, several items were seized, including receipt books, money and three vehicles used in the commission of the crimes.
The suspects are expected to appear in the Rustenburg and Kuruman magistrate’s courts on Monday.
Hawks head Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya welcomed the arrests.
“I want to encourage all South Africans to continuously work with the law enforcement agencies to combat the ongoing threat posed by organised criminal groups,” said Lebeya.