Hawks are roped in to probe people smugglers
LIMPOPO police are working with the Hawks to investigate a human trafficking syndicate that smuggled 47 Ethiopians to South Africa at the weekend.
The crime directorate investigations agency was roped in after six suspects were arrested at Musina and Thohoyandou over trafficking illegal Ethiopians.
The victims were rescued at a house in Thohoyandou after police followed up on complaints laid by a relative ordered to pay a ransom to the smugglers.
Police said they were also consulting the SA Revenue Service and Home Affairs officials to find out if the victims passed through Beitbridge border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Police spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said they were working with the Hawks to trace the smuggling ring.
"Investigations are still under way, no additional arrest has been made but what we can say for now is that we are working hard, and the Hawks have joined investigations," said Mulaudzi
It is alleged that the syndicate wanted to dispatch their victims to different areas in the province for reasons that are still unknown.
International syndicate-related crimes are seen to be increasing in the province, especially in the border town of Musina.
Poaching, contraband cigarettes, clothes and human trafficking have been a concern for international and local human rights organisations. The six suspects appeared in the Musina Magistrate's Court and were remanded in custody until next Monday for further investigation.
Meanwhile, DA provincial chairwoman Desiree van der Walt said they would write to Parliament to urge the ministers of home affairs, defence and police to urgently set up a joint task team to investigate how these foreign nationals entered the country.
The party suspects there was collusion between government officials at the border posts and crime syndicates involved in human trafficking.
"Slavery is not only prohibited by our Constitution, it is also declared as a crime against humanity by the international community," said Van der Walt.
This is the second rescue within six months after a taxi driver was arrested in Beitbridge by Zimbabwean police last year while trying to smuggle 21 children into Limpopo.