Two life terms plus 39 years for Pretoria human trafficker

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation has welcomed the two life sentences handed down to human trafficker Onyekachi Eze Okechukwu for the abuse and torture of two women.

The Pretoria Regional Court handed down the two life sentences and an additional 39 years to Okechukwu last Friday.

The Hawks' Serious Organised Crime Investigating unit arrested Okechukwu in May 2013 at his brothel in Pretoria, where he held the two women captive. They were taken to a place of safety after the operation, where they received counselling.

"The two victims were subjected to witnessing and experiencing physical and sexual violence, threats and encouragement of their addictions," Hawks spokesperson, Captain Lloyd Ramovha, said in a statement on Wednesday. 

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"Although the two victims did not wish to remain in the environment they were in, they were also exposed to the typical mechanisms used by their trafficker and continued to keep them in a web of trafficking that extended beyond physical control to psychological control," he said.

Ramovha said it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that Okechukwu played a significant role in the trafficking of both victims and that he exploited their positions of vulnerability and physically and psychologically controlled them.

Hawks head Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya applauded the investigation team for working around the clock to ensure that the accused was ultimately convicted and sentenced, Ramovha said.