Minister welcomes sentencing of human trafficker

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Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Advocate Michael Masutha, has welcomed the sentencing of Emmanuel Uche Odii to 30 years in prison.

Odii, a Nigerian national, was convicted in August on two counts of human trafficking, two counts of kidnapping, one of rape, one of sexual assault, one of assault and one of running a brothel.

His South African accomplice, Bonginkosi Shange, was handed a five-year jail term for two human trafficking charges, while his Nigerian accomplice, William Ojiaku, was handed a two-year prison term.

Minister Masutha said the decision is reflective of the hard work being done by all role players in the criminal justice system to deal with human trafficking.

He said government is taking human trafficking and all forms of crime seriously and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that perpetrators are dealt with.
“The team that has been working on this case needs to be commended for the work that they did in rooting out savage criminals amongst our people.
“We all know that they were doing their job, however, when people have done excellent work, we need to show appreciation and encourage them to do even more to ensure that we live in safe communities,” the Minister said.

Under the Trafficking in Persons Act, which President Jacob Zuma recently signed into law, a maximum of life imprisonment can be imposed and it deals comprehensively with human trafficking in all its various forms. It provides for the protection and assistance of victims of trafficking.
“We have made the scourge of trafficking our priority in line with the National Development Plan and we have put measures in place to ensure that this Act is implemented effectively.
“We have ensured extensive training of personnel of the National Prosecuting Authority, South African Police Service, social workers from the Department of Social Development, the Judiciary and officials from Immigration and Home Affairs,” Minister Masutha said.

The Minister said the scourge of trafficking is not a South African problem, it is a global problem and government will work tirelessly with all the stakeholders to ensure all members of the society, particularly women and children, are safe.