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Centurion brothel operators guilty in human trafficking case

The man was sentenced two life terms for two counts of human trafficking, two life terms for two counts of rape, six years in prison for two counts of keeping a brothel, 10 years for using services of a victim of trafficking as well as two years for being in the country illegally.

The Pretoria High Court has sentenced a 34-year-old man to four life terms and 18 years imprisonment for human trafficking, rape and running a brothel, and his 29-year-old co-accused to 40 years for human trafficking.

Jude Ikenna Ijegulu (34) and his co-accused Elizabeth Botes (29) were sentenced on Friday, June 14 after being found guilty of holding two women captive, raping, and forcing them into prostitution.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson, Lumka Mahanjana, said Ijegulu and his partner Botes allegedly operated a brothel in Centurion.

It is alleged that a 26-year-old woman from Rustenburg was forced into working at the Centurion-based brothel.

Mahanjana said the woman was held against her will and given drugs by unknown individuals. She was subsequently forced into prostitution.

“On their way to the brothel, Ijegulu stopped at a friend’s house near his brothel, where he followed the complainant to the bathroom and raped her,” she said.

Mahanjana said that Ijegulu was also found guilty of forcing a 22-year-old woman from a Nigerian national in Rustenburg.

It is alleged the 22-year-old was forced into prostitution at the brothel after she had been under the impression that she would be working as a housekeeper.

Mahanjana said both victims were held captive between November 2016 to September 2017.

“During that time, the two were raped, supplied with drugs, physically and sexually assaulted,” she said.

“Botes and Ijegulu also instructed the victims to render sexual services to clients.”

Mahanjana said in September 2017 the two women managed to escape while their captor was asleep and contacted a non-profit organisation that provides shelter for trafficked people.

She said the women later reported the matter to the police.

“On July 16 2018, Ijegulu was arrested after he was lured into meeting up with one of the victims in Centurion,” she said.

“A month later on August 18, 2018, Botes was arrested at a property Ijegulu was renting also in Centurion after an informant provided the address to the police.”

Mahanjana said both Ijegulu and Botes pleaded not guilty to all charges but later Ijegulu’s lawyer asked for a lighter sentence because he was a first-time offender and the women were living in his home.

Mahanjana said that Botes’ lawyer also asked for a lighter sentence, saying she was under Ijegulu’s control due to drug addiction and trauma.

“However, the prosecutors argued that the two showed no remorse and exploited the women’s vulnerability,” she said.

She said the judge agreed, saying Ijegulu was cruel and abused the women’s trust.

Mahanjana said regarding Botes, the judge showed leniency, considering she was also a victim of Ijegulu’s control.

“Botes received a more lenient sentence due to her own vulnerability and circumstances,” she said.

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